Chinese FM may seek revival of India border talks

Mr Wang arrived in Delhi from a short visit to Kabul, reports said, and a day after India’s Ministry of External Affairs slammed his comments at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Pakistan, where he referred to “sharing hopes for Kashmir”.

The Indian reaction however seems to have not deterred the visit amidst deep tensions between both countries on a large number of other issues, and in the backdrop of the raging conflict in Ukraine.

Mr Wang arrived officially unannounced and reports could only cite the Chinese embassy as confirming that he was indeed in Delhi. The visit has been kept under wraps evidently amid differences over the agenda and scheduling issues during a busy time in New Delhi.

Reports said a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi is still “under discussion”. The Ministry of External Affairs made no formal comment on the visit thus far. Asked on Wednesday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters, “I have no information to offer at this moment.”

The decision to host Mr Wang in Delhi is being seen as a departure from the government position thus far that normalcy in the relationship can only follow a complete de–escalation and disengagement at the LAC (Line of Actual Control).

India, according to local reports, has made it clear that the unresolved LAC crisis remains the most important issue on the agenda, to the exclusion of all others, with some hoping that the ministerial–level talks will jumpstart the disengagement process that has been stalled.

The 15th round of military-level talks between the two sides, on March 11, failed to achieve a breakthrough though both sides said the talks were positive.

Both sides have differed on the way forward in disengagement. India has said normalcy is not possible without peace on the LAC, while China has called for the border to be put in an ‘appropriate’ place and not dominate the relationship, a message that Mr Wang is likely to repeat in New Delhi. China is also expected to bring into focus the Russia-Nato standoff over Ukraine.

Hu Shisheng, Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told The Hindu that it was “time for us two giants to do something out of the box”. “India’s stand is very similar with China’s. Both China and India don’t want to see a much weakened, isolated Russia, which means a more vulnerable regional and global order. We have stakes in a stable and not so isolated Russia, and we need to see what we two can do for ending this crisis”.

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