By: Shubham Ghosh
In a much anticipated development, India’s external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Thursday (2) met his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in New Delhi.
This was the first such bilateral meeting between the two diplomats.
Jaishankar and Qin, who took charge from Wang Yi last December, addressed the current challenges to the bilateral ties between their respective countries who have a major border problem to resolve. India and China have seen flare-ups at their borders in eastern Ladakh region which also featured clashes in 2020, besides problems at other areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between them. The two nations have engaged in 17 rounds of military-level talks at the top level over the standoff.
In a tweet following the meeting, Jaishankar said, “Met Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on sidelines of #G20FMM this afternoon. Our discussions were focused on addressing current challenges to the bilateral relationship, especially peace and tranquillity in the border areas. We also spoke about the G20 agenda.”
On Wednesday (1), China said ahead of the meeting between Jaishankar and Qin that it “values” its ties with India and a “sound relationship” between the two nations is in the fundamental interests of both and their people, the Press Trust of India reported.
The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper called the visit by Qin, his maiden to New Delhi after taking over the office, as a “fence-mending” one.
When asked about Qin’s meeting with Jaishankar at a media briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said “China values its relations with India”.
“China and India are ancient civilisations and both have more than one billion people. We are neighbours and are both emerging economies. A sound China-India relationship meets the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples,” she said.
Last week, senior officials from India and China held an in-person meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) in the Chinese capital and discussed proposals for disengagement in the remaining areas of the LAC in eastern Ladakh.
Commenting on Qin’s visit, Wang Dehua, head of the Institute for South and Central Asia Studies at the Shanghai Municipal Centre for International Studies, said the Chinese foreign minister’s visit to Delhi could help ease bilateral tensions over the prolonged border stand-off between China and India.