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How a Meeting in wee hours laid foundation for new beginning between India and China

The Financial Express logo The Financial Express 09-09-2017 FE Online

© image Indian ambassador to China Vijay Gokhale earlier, on August 27 was told that the Chinese were anxious to know how soon they could meet him. As per Times of India report, Gokhale communicated that he was in Hong Kong and could reach only past midnight even if boards the first flight to Beijing.

The two sides sat down at 2 in the morning to discuss the details of the Doklam disengagement. It took the two nations three hours to hammer out a mutually acceptable resolution and, potentially, lay the foundation for a new beginning between the giant neighbours.

Complete Coverage: Doklam Standoff

For, the announcement by the two governments the next day not only defused the stand-off, the worst in decades, on the Himalayan plateau, but appeared to indicate a greater understanding between the two sides to put bilateral ties on a stronger footing where they avoid conflicts and focus on development.

As per senior government sources of TOI, the de-escalation was facilitated by a larger agreement between the PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. As per the agreement, the two sides will approach and pursue their ties as a mutually beneficial opportunity; a vehicle to speed up development.

An important government official told TOI, "Both leaders agreed the two sides have a lot to gain from a partnership which helps them grow faster, and that approaching the bilateral equations as a zero-sum game, where one's gains are invariably at the cost of the other, will be a folly."

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This is what helped the two sides to achieve the breakthrough and formed the basis for positive talks on the sidelines of the BRICS summit. Earlier, on Thursday, Wang Yi, China foreign minister told the reported in Beijing that Xi and Modi, during their "successful" talks on the sidelines of the BRICS summit, had agreed to avoid border confrontation to ensure healthy and stable development, the report added.

In very first comment after the agreement on Doklam, he said, "Sino-Indian relations are not derailed. Sino-Indian development represents the future of the world... win-win cooperation is an inevitable choice and the correct direction for Sino-Indian ties."

Even though PM Modi was firm that he wouldn't allow borders to be redrawn by force, was keen not to let the dispute snowball into a full-scale confrontation. He went about the objective by enforcing message control and by designating the foreign ministry as the only agency authorized to speak.

Doklam standoff: Did China not expect an aggressive and bellicose response from India?

Meanwhile, a senior officer said, "Someone who didn't allow slights like visa denials to seek better diplomatic ties with the US, the UK and the European Union would not have allowed himself to be distracted by jeers," as per TOI report.

Notably, the Prime Minister did not let Doklam affect the normal business between India and China. Around half a dozen ministers flew to Beijing during the showdown and with the clear instruction to focus on the possibilities of cooperation. The tenacity worked, resulting in what top-level sources called "extremely positive response" from Xi when the two leaders met in Xiamen, as per TOI report.

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