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China positive about resolving thorny border issue

By K J M Varma
November 30, 2012 18:04 IST
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Ahead of National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon's visit to Beijing next week, China on Friday sounded buoyant about the resolution of the border problem with India, saying the two sides shared a lot of common ground on the issue and the talks have made positive progress.

"For years, the overall situation at the China-India border area has been peaceful and stable," said foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei while responding to questions on Menon's two-day visit from December 3.

"The two countries share a lot of common ground on resolving the boundary issue through peaceful and friendly consultations. The Special Representatives' meetings have also made positive progress," he said.

India and China have so far held 15 rounds of talks to resolve the issue.

India asserts that the dispute covered about 4,000 km, while China claims it is confined to nearly 2,000 km to the area of Arunachal Pradesh, which it refers to as Southern Tibet.

"China is ready to press ahead with bilateral negotiation on the boundary issue in the spirit of peace, friendship, equal consultation, mutual respect and mutual understanding in a bid to find a solution that is fair, rational and mutually acceptable," Hong said.

"Pending the final settlement of the boundary issue, China would like to work together with India to safeguard peace and tranquility in the China-India border area," he said.

Earlier, Hong told a media briefing that the "Chinese side attaches great importance to Menon's visit to China."

The relations between India and China are at a "very good stage of development," he said, adding that "We enjoy frequent high-level exchanges and our economic cooperation has made important breakthroughs."

"We have already carried (out) very effective cooperation in a lot of areas and made positive outcomes," Hong said, adding that being the most populous country in the world, the two neighbours should tap their common interest and deepen common development.

During his visit, Menon is scheduled to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart on the boundary negotiations, Dai Bingguo, on December 3.

The two -- designated as Special Representatives for the boundary talks -- will be discussing a wide range of issues.

Their meeting is not formally designated as a new round of talks on the boundary issue as Dai is set to retire in March, after which a new administration headed by Xi Jinping will take over.

Xi has already taken over as the general secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China and as head of military. He would formally assume charge as President when incumbent Hu Jintao steps down along with rest of the leaders.

Menon, a veteran on China by virtue of his previous assignments including as India's ambassador, is well known among Chinese leaders and diplomats.

Fluent in Mandarin, he shares good relations with Dai and a host of other Chinese leaders. His visit is mainly focused on making formal contacts with the new Chinese leaders.

While there is no official announcement yet on his schedule, he would be meeting Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who has number two status in the new leadership hierarchy.

Li is set to take over as premier in March when Wen Jiabao formally retires.

Besides holding talks with the Chinese leaders, Menon will be releasing a book on Chinese translation of the works of Professor P C Bagchi, regarded as India's most eminent scholar on Chinese culture.

He would also deliver a talk on India-China relations at the Indian embassy in Beijing on December 4.

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K J M Varma
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