China calls on India to meet ‘halfway’ on border issue

Published July 16, 2023
China’s Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Wang Yi (R) attends a meeting on July 12 and India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (L) delivers a speech on July 13 in Jakarta, Indonesia. — Reuters
China’s Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Wang Yi (R) attends a meeting on July 12 and India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (L) delivers a speech on July 13 in Jakarta, Indonesia. — Reuters

BEIJING: China’s top diplomat urged India to focus on “common interests” and meet China “halfway” to defuse border tensions between Asia’s most populous neighbours, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Saturday.

Relations between India and China have deteriorated in recent months over their contested Himalayan border, and a visa spat in which the two sides have expelled nearly all of each other’s journalists.

“China and India’s common interests clearly outweigh their differences,” Wang Yi told Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, when the two met on Friday on the sidelines of Southeast Asian talks in Jakarta, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The two sides should support each other, rather than… suspect each other,” Mr Wang added.

Commander-level talks on the issue expected ‘as soon as possible’

India and its northern neighbour are locked in a military standoff along their mostly undemarcated border in the Ladakh region.

Beijing also claims the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of Tibet, and it considers Kashmir a disputed territory. “It is hoped that the Indian side will meet China halfway and find a solution to the border issue that is acceptable to both sides,” Mr Wang said.

The two countries have agreed to hold the next round of military commander-level talks on the border issue “as soon as possible”, the ministry statement said.

Despite frosty relations, China is India’s second-largest trade partner.

In 2020, India sought to limit investments from China as political tensions heightened between them, with their soldiers clashing in the disputed Himalayan region.

“China is highly concerned about India’s recent restrictive measures against Chinese companies,” Mr Wang added, while urging New Delhi to provide a “fair, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment”.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2023

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