India, China Agree on Five Guiding Principles to Resolve Current Stand-Off

After Indian and Chinese foreign ministers met in Moscow, the two countries announced that they have reached five points of consensus, which include directions to border troops to continue dialogue, quickly disengage and maintain distance, as well as the need for new confidence-building measures.

On Thursday, Indian external affairs minister S. Jaishankar and Chinese state councillor Wang Yi met for the first time after the start of the crisis, just six days after their ministerial colleagues in charge of defence had also held their first face-to-face meeting to discuss the stand-off on September 4.

In between, Indian and Chinese troops accused each other over firing the first shots at the Line of Actual Control in more than four decades on September 7.

China has been the first off the block to issue a press release on the meeting. “The two sides reached a five-point consensus regarding the current situation after a full, in-depth discussion,” said the read-out from the Chinese foreign ministry.

An hour later, India’s Ministry of External Affairs issued a “joint statement”, which listed five points of concurrence reached by the two foreign ministers after a “frank and constructive” discussion that lasted two and half hours.

These five points are:

1. The two ministers agreed that both sides should take guidance from the series of consensus of the leaders on developing India-China relations, including not allowing differences to become disputes.

2. The two foreign ministers agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed, therefore, that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions.

3. The two ministers agreed that both sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.

4. The two sides also agreed to continue to have dialogue and communication through the Special Representative mechanism on the India-China boundary question. They also agreed in this context that the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China border affairs should also continue its meetings.

5. The ministers agreed that as the situation eases, the two sides should expedite work to conclude new confidence-building measures to maintain and enhance peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

While the two sides have talked of quick disengagement, there is no explicit mention of final de-escalation or restoration of status quo ante in the five points.