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BEIJING: Amid rising tension over New Delhi’s move to change Kashmir’s legal status, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a meeting with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has asked India to “play a constructive role in regional peace and stability”.

Expressing concern over escalating conflict between India and Pakistan and the current situation in Kashmir, Mr Wang said China opposed any unilateral action against the Valley’s special status and hoped that India and Pakistan would resolve disputes in a peaceful manner and jointly safeguard the overall situation to maintain regional peace and stability.

About the Indian attempt to include some Chinese border areas into its territory, Mr Wang said the step challenged China’s sovereign rights and interests contrary to their agreement on safeguarding the border areas, and peace and security, but it would not change the fact that China exercised sovereignty over the relevant territory and the status quo of effective jurisdiction.

The Chinese FM hoped that the Indian government would take measures to promote mutual trust and avoid unnecessary interference in regional stability.

The Indian Minister for External Affairs said the recent move to change the status of Kashmir did not produce new sovereignty. He claimed the move would have no bearing on its external boundaries or relations with China. The amendment neither changed the India-Pakistan ceasefire line nor the control line of the India-China border, he said.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency cited Mr Jaishankar as saying India would “abide by the consensus reached with China on maintaining peace in the border and continue to work with China to properly solve the border issue through consultations”. He said India was willing to exercise restraint and maintain regional peace and stability and expressed the hope for improvement in relations with Pakistan. At the same time, he added, the Indian side also wanted to properly resolve the border issue between India and China through consultations, and would abide by the consensus reached by the two countries on maintaining peace in the border areas.

During his stay, Mr Jaishankar along with the Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi co-chaired a second meeting of the China-India people-to-people exchange mechanism.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2019