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Chinese FM in India for first visit since border clash

March 25, 2022

Relations between India and China took a nosedive after deadly border clashes in June 2020. The Chinese foreign minister's visit marked the first high-level trip by a Chinese official in nearly two years.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) and Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar on the sidelines of a foreign ministers meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Moscow, Russia, Sept. 10, 2020.
The situation along the India-China border continues to remain tense with hundreds of soldiers from both sides still stationed in the mountainous Himalayan regionImage: Bai Xueqi/Xinhua/imago images

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi on Friday, India's Foreign Ministry said.

China's top diplomat landed in New Delhi late Thursday evening, after visiting Pakistan and Afghanistan as part of his South Asia tour this week. He is set to fly to Nepal later Friday for a three-day visit.

This marked the first high-level visit to India by a Chinese official since deadly clashes along the disputed India-China border in June 2020 strained ties between the two Asian giants.

Despite reports in local media for a week, neither China nor India had officially confirmed the visit before Wang landed in New Delhi, which Foreign Minister Jaishankar said was at Wang's request. 

What we know about the talks

The two foreign ministers discussed the standoff along the India-China border, the war in Ukraine, as well as India's in-person participation in a summit of emerging economies, known as BRICS — for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — to be held later this year.

"I was very honest in my discussions with the Chinese foreign minister, especially in conveying our national sentiments," India's Jaishankar told a news briefing after his three-hour meeting with Wang.

"The frictions and tensions that arise from China's deployments since April 2020 cannot be reconciled with a normal relationship between the two neighbors."

In a statement, Wang said the two sides should resolve their differences, adding that the world would listen if China and India spoke with one voice.

Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla talks with DW about the US election and India's issues with Pakistan and China

India's national adviser also pressed Wang on de-escalation at the border, though it was not immediately clear if India offered to pull back its troops if China did.

Meanwhile, India and China have also called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine following Russia's invasion.

"Both of us agreed on the importance of an immediate cease-fire, as well as a return to diplomacy," Jaishankar said after the meeting.

The two countries are both allied with Moscow and have rejected Western calls for condemnation of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Why did India and China relations deteriorate?

Relations between India and China took a nosedive after Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed in the Galwan river valley in eastern Ladakh, which is along the Line of Actual Control, the de facto boundary that separates India and China.

Soldiers along the disputed mountain border clashed with iron rods and stones, which resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese soldiers.

Indian and Chinese military commanders have held multiple rounds of talks and have disengaged from friction points along the disputed boundary, but the situation continues to remain tense with hundreds of soldiers from both sides still stationed in the mountainous Himalayan region.

Wang's Kashmir comments

Wang, who visited Pakistan for three days, generated some controversy ahead of his arrival in India with his comments at a conference of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Tuesday.

"On Kashmir, we have heard again today the calls of many of our Islamic friends. And China shares the same hope," he said at the OIC meeting. 

Both India and Pakistan claim the Muslim-majority territory in full, but only control parts of it and have gone to war twice over it.

In response to Wang's comments, India's Foreign Ministry said it rejected "the uncalled reference to India by the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his speech at the Opening Ceremony" at the OIC.

"Matters related to the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir are entirely the internal affairs of India," it added.

rm/sri (Reuters, AP)