'India, China need to show flexibility to settle border issue'

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Beijing, Feb 11: Asking India to adopt a more "pro- active approach" to resolve the boundary issue before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit here, a state-run Chinese daily on Wednesday said both sides need to show flexibility and innovation to reach a settlement especially on Arunachal Pradesh.

Ahead of the new round of Sino-India border talks, in an article published in Global Times, Chinese strategic affairs expert Lan Jianxue said consensus has been reached during recent External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's visit that the border dispute should not be left for future generations.

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"China has been always committed to resolve the border dispute with great sincerity and the Chinese government used to offer a package proposal for settling the issue, which requires each side to make a compromise, yet it was turned down by India," the article claimed.

"Therefore, we have brought forward the idea of working hard together and moving toward the same direction, because we feel that India has not kept up the pace with China. We hope that the two parties can reach a consensus based on not only mutual understanding and accommodation, but also a strong will of showing flexibility as well as innovation in the near future," it said.

The article has been published ahead of the 18th round of Special Representatives border talks between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi expected to take place later this month. "However, to this day, the Indian government has not given us a reply or any signal of goodwill for adjustment over this issue.

In the light of this, the ball is in India's court to adopt a more proactive approach," said Lan, an associate research fellow with the China Institute of International Studies.

"Now, that Swaraj has put forward the potential out-of- box solution this time, we have every reason to expect that the logjam could be broken and a new beginning could be made. But it remains to be seen what dedication Modi will put into a practical settlement for the bitter territorial dispute," the article said.

Outlining Chinese thinking, it said if there is an "out-of-box solution", it is likely a breakthrough over the eastern part of the border, meaning the Arunachal Pradesh which China calls Southern Tibet. Lan said the "illegal McMahon Line" is at the heart of the boundary dispute.

"This is a line that China has never accepted. If India won't make concessions or adjustments over the line, there will be no suggestion whatsoever that the two sides are any closer to agreeing," Lan said.

"As ties grow closer, both countries should be more inclined to resolve all unsettled issues, and not let problems become an obstacle of deepening the bilateral relations or sabotage the big picture," the article said.

China says the border dispute is confined to 2,000 km mostly in Arunachal Pradesh while India asserts that the dispute covers the western side of the border spanning to about 4,000 km.

PTI

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