BEIJING (Reuters) - China and India proposed measures on Friday to resolve a long-festering border dispute, as Beijing sought to clear obstacles to a relationship that it said could change the international political order.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Beijing, the second leg of his three-day trip to China during which both sides have pledged to boost cooperation between the two Asian giants.
“We have the ability to make the global political and economic order move in a more just and balanced direction,” Li said.
The two countries agreed to start annual visits between their militaries, expand exchanges between the border commanders and start using a military hotline that has been discussed in recent years to defuse flare-ups on the border, according to a joint statement.
Tensions rose between China and India last year over the disputed border. China lays claim to more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) ruled by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. India says China occupies 38,000 square km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west. India is also suspicious of China’s support for India’s arch-rival, Pakistan.
“We both believe in maintaining the momentum of talks between special representatives on the border issue in seeking a plan for resolution that is fair and reasonable,” Li told reporters.
In a reminder of the underlying tensions between the two countries, Modi said he “stressed the need for China to reconsider its approach on some of the issues that hold us back from realizing full potential of our partnership”.
The world’s two largest countries by population also discussed ways to tackle climate change. China and India are the world’s No.1 and No.3 emitters of carbon dioxide.
More than 20 agreements have been signed for cooperation in areas such as railways and clean energy technologies.
The desire to realize what both sides call “the Asian Century” is driving much of the goodwill. On Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged Modi to “realize the strategic needs for our national rejuvenation” and “work together to promote the international order in a more just and fair direction”.
Modi told reporters that “the re-emergence of India and China and their relationship” would have “a profound impact on the course of this century”.
Behind the apparent detente is a push by Xi to invoke nationalistic themes to win public support as he seeks to boost China’s role as a bigger player in international politics. His remarks also appear aimed to appeal to Modi, who believes in a strong and proud India.
The Global Times, an influential tabloid owned by the ruling Chinese Communist party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, said in an editorial that “it is obvious that the Western elite doesn’t want to see India and China drawing closer to each other, because it will confront their vision for Asia’s future”.
Additional reporting and writing by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Michael Perry and Paul Tait