BEIJING: China indicated on Tuesday -within a fortnight of the Doklam agreement with India -that it wants to negotiate on issues like resuming supply of Brahmaputra river flow data, and the movement of pilgrims to Kailash Mansarovar, suspended during the 10-week stand-off.
The Chinese foreign ministry said it would talk to New Delhi on the pilgrim issue, and it needed time to consider reopening the Nathu la route to Indians visiting Mansarovar in Tibet. Beijing had stopped the passage of pilgrims in these areas following the Doklam stand-off.
While conceding that Brahmaputra river data collection was stopped as systems were being upgraded, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said this did not mean Beijing was setting a timeline as to when the exchange of hydrological data would resume.
India considers hydrological data crucial for making advance preparations to face floods or droughts, which are common in Brahmaputra basin areas in Assam and other parts of the Northeast.For long time we have conducted cooperation on river data with the Indian side. But to upgrade and renovate the relevant station on the Chinese side, we do not have the conditions now to collect the relevant statistics (sic),“ Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Shuang said.
He did not specify when the supply of river data would resume. “We will later consider that,“ he said, adding that India was aware of the upgrading of data collection stations on the Brahmaputra on the Chinese side. The signal from Beijing is that it wants to renegotiate some aspects of bilateral ties without allowing Delhi to assume that the end of the border stand-off would mean a return to the old situation.
On the Mansarovar pilgrimage, he said China would “keep communication“ channels open. He indicated that the route was opened assuming there was no problem on the border and that the situation changed after Indian troops “illegally“ crossed the border.
“For long, China has made efforts… to provide necessary convenience to Indian pilgrims. According to the agreement between the two leaders (Modi and Xi), the western section of the India-China boundary has recognised by the two sides, China opened the pass to Indian pilgrims,“ he said.
First Chinese minister visits India post-Doklam
The first Chinese minister on a diplomatic mission to arrive in India after the Doklam impasse reached Kolkata on Tuesday. Li Xiaosan, head, organisation department (Yunnan province) is visiting as part of a relationship-building process.