India and China agreed that restoring peace in border areas is in the common interest of the 2 countries. Differences remained though as Jaishankar conveyed to Wang India’s “national sentiment’’ that friction arising from China’s deployments since April 2020 cannot be reconciled with a normal relationship and Wang called for a “long-term view” saying India and China, as “mature’’ countries, should allow border issues to affect the overall development of ties.
While there was no breakthrough or any major announcement, Wang’s “outreach’’ in the form of his visit was seen as significant and the meetings with Doval and Jaishankar were described as cordial, open and candid. Wang said China was looking forward to PM Narendra Modi’s participation in the BRICS summit later this year and invited Doval to China for carrying forward the mandate of the Special Representatives on India-China boundary question. Doval responded positively and said he could visit China as soon as the “immediate issues’’ are resolved.
Doval told Wang continuation of present situation is not in mutual interest and that restoration of peace and tranquility will help build mutual trust and create enabling environment for progress in relation. He said it was important to ensure actions do not violate spirit of equal and mutual security and that there was a need for maturity and sincerity.
Jaishankar, whose meeting with Wang lasted for 3 hours, said that the relationship was not normal because the situation at LAC was not normal as China had violated 1993 and 1996 bilateral agreements with its large deployment of troops.
“Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke about China’s desire for a return to normalcy, while also referring to the larger significance of our ties. I was equally forthcoming that India wants a stable and predictable relationship. But restoration of normalcy will obviously require a restoration of peace and tranquillity. If we are both committed to improving our ties, then this commitment must find full expression in ongoing disengagement talks,’’ said Jaishankar, after the meeting with Wang. Acknowledging progress in disengagement at several friction points, he described the current situation at LAC as work in progress but at a slower pace than desirable.
“But they haven’t sorted out the issue in entirety. So, our effort is today to sort out the issue in entirety and deal with the disengagement. So that it then allows us to look at the de-escalation possibilities,’’ he said.
Wang also proposed a 3-point approach that he said would allow India and China to together promote peace and stability in the region and also the entire world. These included adopting a long-term vision of ties and putting the border issue at an appropriate place, view each other’s development with a win-win mindset and participate in multilateral processes with a cooperative attitude.
While it’s extremely rare for a foreign minister of any country, let alone a P-5 country, to arrive unannounced in India, Jaishankar said the Chinese didn’t want the visit announced. “Typically, to announce a visit, it’s done by mutual convenience and for whatever reason, the Chinese did not want this set of visits which Mr Wang Yi did, to be announced earlier. So since we did not have mutual agreement, we did not make our announcement,’’ he said. Wang also couldn’t call on PM Narendra Modi apparently because the latter was traveling to Lucknow for the swearing-in of the new government.