National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi led the 21st Special Representatives' Meeting on the China-India Boundary Question in Chengdu

by Abhishek G Bhaya

India and China achieved "positive progress" at the latest round of border talks that concluded on Saturday as both sides put forward a range of "forward-looking and workable proposals" towards an "early harvest" of resolution of the decades-long border issue, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

Echoing the Chinese statement, a press note from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Saturday stressed that Wang and Doval resolved to "intensify efforts" to achieve a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the India-China boundary question at an early date.

The talks came at a time when China-India relations have attained "strategic significance" in the light of the recent "international situations" and also achieved "positive progress" following the informal summit between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Wuhan in April that led the bilateral ties to enter "a new stage of development."

"The two sides put forward a host of forward-looking and workable proposals and suggestions on advancing boundary talks, upholding peace and stability and promoting cooperation in the border areas during the meeting. So to speak, the two sides in general shared similar views and thinking in many areas," China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said.

"The two sides agreed to entrust the Working Mechanism of Consultation and Coordination on China-India Border Affairs to start the consultation for early harvest, review the relevant suggestions made by the two sides, work in a creative way and conduct systematic study regarding the areas and items on which initial consensus was reached during the talks, in a bid to find solutions and schemes to achieve specific outcomes at an early date and create and build enabling conditions for the final settlement of the boundary question," he added.

'Historical Responsibility'

Earlier, after concluding the talks on Saturday, Wang had asserted that proper resolution of border issue is the historical responsibility of the two countries.

Wang said that both China and India are countries with ancient civilisations and they are also the largest developing countries in the world representing the most dynamic emerging economies at present. In this context, Wang said, they share extensive common interests with broad space for cooperation between them.

Enhanced cooperation between the two countries will not only accelerate the development of bilateral relations, but also make new contributions to world peace, Wang said, adding that the key to realise this goal is to properly manage and control the border issue, which is also a historical responsibility for both China and India.

A statement from India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Saturday added that both Wang and Doval agreed that pending the final resolution of the boundary question, it is important to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and to ensure that the boundary question does not affect the overall development of the bilateral relationship.

'Strategic Significance'

In this context, they noted the mature handling of issues relating to the India-China border areas since the Wuhan summit, it stated.

"Since the meeting of the two leaders in Wuhan this year, the China-India relations have achieved positive progress in an all-round way, thus entering a new stage of development. Under the current international situations, the strategic significance of our bilateral ties becomes more prominent," Geng said echoing the official Indian statement.

"Our two sides will act on the important consensus reached by the two leaders to strengthen strategic communication, increase political mutual trust and advance cooperation across the board. Meanwhile, we will jointly move forward the settlement process of the boundary question and uphold peace and tranquillity of the border areas," he added.

The Indian MEA statement emphasised that the two Special Representatives "shared the view that stable and balanced development of India-China relations is a positive factor for peace and prosperity in the region and the whole world."

The Special Representatives also exchanged views on regional and global issues of common interest and agreed to maintain close consultations on such issues, the statement added.

Since last summer's Doklam border standoff, China and India have taken several confidence building measures aimed at improving relations. The Wuhan summit between Xi and Modi has given a new momentum to ties between the Asian neighbours leading to an increased level of engagement in all spheres ever since.

Also on October 25, China's Ministry of National Defence announced that the seventh annual "Hand-in-Hand" military exercise, which got derailed last year due to the border standoff, will be revived later this year.