Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and held talks with with China’s Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui on Wednesday as part of the key strategic dialogue to improve bilateral ties between the two countries.
Jaishankar’s talks are expected to set the tone for bilateral ties this year and will cover the whole gamut of bilateral ties.
China has deputed Zhang Yesui, also the head of the influential CPC committee of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, for the parleys.
Of late, India’s ties with China have been hit by Chinese reluctance to support India’s admission into the NSG and back a United Nations ban on JeM leader Masood Azhar.
China has appeared unrelenting in its opposition to impose the UN ban on Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Azhar and has ben ambivalent on India’s membership to the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Commenting on “friction points” including Azhar and NSG, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said “differences between China and India are inevitable, but through various forms of in-depth exchanges, including the upcoming Strategic Dialogue, differences can be minimised and new agreement can be reached on further cooperation”.
Putting the onus on India to prove Azhar’s involvement in the Pathankot terrorist attack, Geng told reporters last week that China will back the move to list him only if there was solid evidence.
In 2016, China twice put a technical hold on India’s application to 1267 sanctions committee of the UNSC and again blocked a resolution moved by the US and backed by France and the UK, in January.
“Whether last year’s application by India or this year’s by relevant country our position is consistent. Our criteria is only one, we need solid evidence. If there is solid evidence the application can be approved. If there is no solid evidence there is hardly consensus,” Geng had said.
On India’s admission into the NSG, again blocked by China, he reiterated China’s stand, “We stick to two-step approach namely, first NSG members need to arrive at a set of principles for the entry of NSG by non-NPT state parties, and then move forward discussions of specific cases.”
Bilateral ties between India and China have also strained over the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), over which India has protested as it goes through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
China defends the ambitious project, saying it is development project and made no difference to its stand that Kashmir issue should be resolved by India and Pakistan.
Strategic dialogue with China was upgraded during Wang’s visit to New Delhi last year.
The two sides have stressed that both sides must hold talks at various levels to iron out differences.
On Tuesday, Jaishankar held talks with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi. Besides being the State Councillor, Yang, is also Beijing’s Special Representative for border talks between India and China.
(With inputs from agencies)