India will talk tough with China, face-off today

Beijing: India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will meet Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday, as the two countries hold bilateral talks despite several sticking points between them, including Beijing’s position about New Delhi’s membership to Nuclear Supplier’s Group.

Jaishankar, who landed in China after his visit to Sri Lanka, met top diplomat Yang Jiechi.

Jiechi, China’s State Councillor of the Communist Party of China and Beijing's Special Representative for border talks between India and China — a leader who, under Beijing’s system, functions directly under the country’s leadership — at Zhongnanhai.

"We truly hope that in the year ahead our two countries can enhance our exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation so that we can jointly contribute more to peace and stability and development of our region and the world at large," Yang said, recalling President Pranab Mukherjee's visit last year.

Jaishankar is expected to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, besides attending an upgraded strategic dialogue with China's Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui on Wednesday.

The meetings are likely to witness talks on some contentious issues — such as China’s resistance to India’s entry into the elite NSG and its position over India’s call for UN sanctions on Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar. 

China’s $46 billion investment on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — a project that passes through the contested Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir — will also likely be discussed.

China, an ally of Pakistan, has been reluctant to allow India into the NSG citing India’s position on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

India is not a signatory to the treaty.

Another sore point between the two countries, besides an unresolved border dispute, is China’s efforts to block India’s application to have Azhar — a man who has been accused of having been involved in several terrorist attacks in India, including one at a military base in Pathankot last year — listed as a terrorist in UN Security Council’s 1267 Sanctions Committee list.

Sanctions against Azhar would mean a travel ban and assets freeze for him. 

Last month, China had frustrated a resolution by the US for the sanctions. Beijing had already blocked two of India’s resolutions before.      

In an interview before the meeting to China’s state run newspaper Global Times Jaishankar said India was worried about the CPEC project and terrorism.

"For us, there are questions of sovereignty which need to be addressed first," he said in oblique references to CPEC passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) over which New Delhi has already conveyed its protest to Beijing.

He also said India and China should loosely work on “countering terrorism”, a hint at China’s ‘technical hold’ on India’s application for sanctions.

"China has a very strong, principled position on counter-terrorism. We hope the position China already has will be further implemented," Jaishankar said, adding that India was holding discussions with China.