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Both China, India look to improving ties beyond border issue

By APARAJIT CHAKRABORTY in New Delhi For China Daily | | Updated: 2024-06-13 21:52
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Beijing is willing to work with India to push forward bilateral relations in the right direction, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in New Delhi said on June 12, after Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said that India wants to find solutions to the border issues with China.

China is ready to collaborate with India to improve bilateral relations, the spokesperson said in a message posted on social media, adding that the border disputes "should be handled properly".

"China and India are important neighbouring countries. Relevant border issues should be handled properly. A sound and stable #ChinaIndia relationship is in the interest of both countries, and conducive to the peace and development in this region and beyond. China is willing to work with India to push forward bilateral relations in the right direction," the spokesperson said in the post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The embassy's statement came a day after India's Jaishankar reaffirmed his commitment to "finding a solution for the border issues" with China.

India will focus on resolving the remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control, or LAC, with China, Jaishankar said in New Delhi after being reappointed as India's external affairs minister.

The messages from the two sides came after Indian leader Narendra Modi, Jaishankar's boss, was sworn into office for a third consecutive term as prime minister. Modi took oath of office on June 9 at a ceremony in New Delhi that was attended by leaders of some neighboring countries.

The statements indicate that both sides want to leave their differences behind and sincerely want to move toward normalization of relations, analysts said.

The new government under the leadership of Modi appears to be providing some framework on priority basis to restore relations with China at the earliest, said Alka Acharya, a professor at the Centre for East Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), in New Delhi.

Presence of leaders from some neighboring countries at Modi's oath-taking ceremony is a welcome sign that augurs a neighborhood-first policy, Acharya said, adding that China is an important neighbor.

Chinese Ambassador to India Xu Feihong in a post on X on June 11 noted that Chinese Premier Li Qiang had extended congratulations to Prime Minister Modi.

The message from Li conveyed that steady relations between Beijing and New Delhi will help bring "'positive energy into the region and the world," the post said.

Earlier, Xu also congratulated Modi in another post on X.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 5 extended wishes to Modi and his National Democratic Alliance on their victory in India's general elections, saying that Beijing is looking forward to a "healthy and stable" China-India relationship.

At a daily news conference in Beijing, ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that a "healthy and stable" relationship between New Delhi and Beijing is in the mutual interest of both sides.

In an interview with Time magazine in April, Modi underlined the urgency of normalizing India-China relations through dialogue, and called for putting the problems behind them to forge a cooperation partnership for the future, noted Swaran Singh, a professor of international relations at JNU.

Relations between the two countries have been complicated since a border standoff in May 2020. Multiple rounds of talks at diplomatic and military levels have taken place since then to bring the relations back on track.

It is clear that both sides want to resolve the border issue and want to normalize the relations. The core issue of long-pending border settlement needs to be addressed by both sides, said R.S. Vasan, a retired Indian navy commodore who is now the director of the Chennai Centre for China Studies think tank.

It is time that India and China leave their differences behind and move toward normalization of relations. It is in everyone's benefit to have close political, economic and cultural relations, said Sreemati Chakrabarti, a former professor of Chinese studies at the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Delhi.

"Only when the two emerging global powers cooperate, the world (can) change for the better. India always desires a peaceful relationship with all its neighbors. There is no alternative to peaceful coexistence," Chakrabarti said, adding: "Let us strive for it."

The writer is a freelance journalist for China Daily.

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