J&K move not to make new land claim, India tells China

S Jaishankar (AFP File Photo)

India on Monday reassured China that its recent moves on its Jammu and Kashmir state were not intended to make any additional territorial claim along its disputed boundary with the neighbouring communist country. 

China, an “all-weather ally” of Pakistan, however, maintained that India's move to end the special status of Jammu and Kashmir would change the status quo of the disputed area and result in regional tensions. 

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar conveyed to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that New Delhi's recent decisions to strip J&K of its special status and reorganizing the state into two Union Territories (UTs) had no implication for India's external boundaries and its de facto border (Line of Actual Control) with China. He also told Wang that the decisions had no impact on India's Line of Control or the de facto border with Pakistan too. 

He conveyed to Chinese Foreign Minister that Beijing must base its assessment on India-Pakistan relations on “realities”. 

Wang took up the issue of J&K when he and Jaishankar met in Beijing. He conveyed to his counterpart that Beijing had perceived New Delhi's decisions on J&K as “unilateral” moves by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Government to strengthen claim – not only on areas of Kashmir under occupation of Pakistan, but also on 5183 sq. kms areas of Pakistan ceded to China in 1963 and on Aksai Chin – a disputed territory between India and China. 

Wang hosted Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday and almost echoed him to say that the dispute over J&K should be “properly and peacefully resolved” based on the United Nations charter, relevant resolutions by the UN Security Council and bilateral agreements. New Delhi has been maintaining that neither the UN nor any other third party had any role in resolving the bilateral disputes between India and Kashmir. 

China hopes that India will play “a constructive role” to ensure regional peace and stability, a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chinese Government in Beijing quoted Wang telling Jaishankar on Monday. 

Wang told Jaishankar that India's move to turn Ladakh into a UT had posed “a challenge” to “sovereignty” of China. It violated the two countries' agreement on maintaining peace and stability in the border region. “India's move is neither valid to China nor will change the status quo that China exercises sovereignty and administrative jurisdiction over the territories involved,” the Global Times, a state-owned newspaper of the communist country, quoted him telling External Affairs Minister. 

Jaishankar conveyed to Wang that China's concerns on India's recent decisions were “misplaced”, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi. He told Chinese Foreign Minister that New Delhi's decision to make changes in “a temporary provision” (Article 370) of the Constitution to the status of the J&K was an “internal affair” of India and aimed at “promoting better governance and socio-economic development”.  

Jaishankar underlined during his meeting with Wang that so far as the “India-China boundary question” was concerned, the two sides (New Delhi and Beijing) had agreed to a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of the Boundary Question on the basis of the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles as agreed upon by the Special Representatives of the two nations in 2005. 

The Special Representatives of India and China have been holding negotiations since 2003 to resolve the protracted boundary dispute. 

Beijing last week strongly opposed New Delhi's decisions on J&K – not only to stand by its “all-weather ally” Islamabad but also because it was concerned over the implication of the moves by Modi Government on India-China boundary dispute. 

China's strong objection to India's moves on J&K struck a jarring note to efforts by the two nations over the past 20 odd months to mend bilateral relations, which had hit a new low over the 72-day-long military stand-off between the two nations in Doklam Plateau in western Bhutan. An “informal summit” between Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Wuhan in central China in April 2018 had brought about a thaw in bilateral relations. New Delhi and Beijing are now preparing to hold the second “informal summit” between Prime Minister and Chinese President in India on October 11 or 12.   

“India, as a responsible power, had shown restraint in face of provocative Pakistani rhetoric and actions. India has always stood for normalisation of the ties in an atmosphere free of terror,” the MEA statement issued in New Delhi quoted Jaishankar telling Wang. 

“The future of the India-China relationship will obviously depend on mutual sensitivity to each other’s core concerns. It is natural, both as neighbours and large developing economies that there would be issues in our ties. Properly managing differences is therefore vital. As our leaders agreed in Astana (in 2017), differences should not become disputes,” Jaishankar said, addressing the 4th India-China media forum in Beijing on Monday. 

“The positive direction of ties after the Wuhan Summit has opened up a world of new convergences,” added External Affairs Minister. 

Chinese Foreign Minister also addressed the media forum. 

Pakistan has been running a diplomatic campaign against India, accusing it of unilaterally changing the status of what it called a disputed territory. Khan Government also reiterated its allegation against Indian Army and paramilitary forces of violating the human rights of the people of Kashmir in order to crush their protest against New Delhi's latest moves in particular as well as their struggle for right to self-determination.

New Delhi dismissed the allegations as mere propaganda by the neighbouring country.

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