China ready to ‘break new ground’ on border settlement

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JeichiBEIJING, June 28;China’s new Special Representative on the boundary dispute said in Beijing on Friday that he was ready to “break new ground” with India on the long-running border negotiations, as the two sides met in Beijing for the 16th round of talks.

Yang Jiechi, who took over as the Special Representative (SR) earlier this year following his promotion as State Councillor or the top diplomat, met with National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, his counterpart on the boundary negotiations, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in central Beijing on Friday morning.

The talks have assumed particular significance following this year’s leadership transition in China and the recent strains along the disputed border following the April 15 incursion by Chinese troops in Depsang, in Ladakh.

In introductory remarks before the talks began, Mr. Yang said the visit in May by new Premier Li Keqiang to New Delhi had “injected fresh and strong momentum” into the relationship.

“The two Special Representatives have a lofty mission and heavy responsibilities,” said the new Chinese State Councillor.

“I stand ready to work with you to build on the work of our predecessors and break new ground, to strive for the settlement of the China-India boundary question and to make greater progress in the China-India strategic and cooperative partnership in the new period,” he added.

Mr. Menon described Mr. Yang as “an old friend”. He said both countries were meeting “at a moment when India-China relations have achieved a momentum and are moving in the right direction”.

“It is our conviction that we are at a moment of strategic opportunity for this relationship,” Mr. Menon said.

The visit of India’s National Security Adviser is likely to be followed by that of Defence Minister A.K. Antony on July 4, at a time when both countries have been grappling with strains in the wake of the Depsang incident.

On Thursday, People’s Liberation Army Major General Luo Yuan, a prominent Chinese military strategist known for his hawkish views, told The Hindu that China did not want to see “unexpected” incidents along the border with India.

The outspoken Major General had a surprisingly positive take on the state of relations, saying he did not even see the boundary dispute with India as figuring among China’s top five current military threats. He identified those threats as the East China Sea, where China is engaged in a dispute with Japan over the Diaoyu or Senkaku islands; the South China Sea, whose waters and islands are disputed by several countries; and recently newly emerging financial, cyberspace and “outer space” threats.

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