Beijing: China on Wednesday hoped that during the upcoming 15th round of high-level military talks with India, the two neighbours can make a “further step forward” and reach a “proper settlement” acceptable to both sides on the remaining friction areas in eastern Ladakh.

Confirming the 15th round of high-level military talks on March 11, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here on Wednesday that “in the last round of talks, the two sides had candid in-depth exchanges of views on resolving the remaining issues on the western sector of the boundary.”

“We hope at the upcoming round of talks; the two sides can make a further step forward on the border issue. We hope we can seek proper settlement of the disputes and reach a solution that is acceptable to both sides,” he said.

The talks till now have resulted in the resolution of issues in the North and South banks of Pangong Tso, Galwan and Gogra Hot Spring areas.

There was, however, no fresh breakthrough in the 14th round of the dialogue that took place on January 12 this year.

The two sides will hold the next round at Chushul Moldo meeting point in Ladakh on Friday to end the 22-month standoff at the remaining friction areas, according to Indian officials.

Recent statements by both sides to find a mutually acceptable solution have been encouraging and positive in nature, they noted.

India has been talking with China about a quick disengagement on remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh such as Patrolling Point 15 (Hot Springs), Depsang Bulge and Demchok.

The eastern Ladakh border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake area. Both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday that “some setbacks” in China-India relations in recent years are not in the fundamental interests of both the countries even as he stated that differences over the vexed boundary issue and territory should not “interfere with the bigger picture of bilateral cooperation”.

Wang, who is also China’s Special Representative on the India-China boundary question along with National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, expressed the hope that China and India will be “partners for mutual success instead of adversaries of mutual attrition.”

Asked what steps China is taking to enhance the mutual trust and resolve the setbacks, the foreign ministry spokesman said in his media briefing that Foreign Minister Wang made clear China’s position on developing China-India relations.

“China and India share broad common interests and huge cooperation potential. We both shoulder the historical mission of improving people’s livelihoods and speeding up development,” Zhao said.

“The two countries should be partners for mutual success rather than adversaries of mutual attrition. We always believe that China India relations are mature and multi-layered,” he said.

“The boundary issue between us is not the whole of the China India relations. We need to put the issues in a proper position in the bilateral relations and properly manage it,” he said.

“We hope the Indian side can work with China to enhance mutual trust, enhance practical cooperation to ensure that bilateral relations can move along the right track so as to deliver greater benefits to the two peoples and make a greater contribution to the region and beyond,” he said.

To a question on improving people-to-people exchanges, Zhao said COVID-19 is still raging across the world.

“Under the condition of ensuring safety amid the pandemic China and India can and should have exchanges through various means such as video conference and virtual diplomacy,” he said.

“We can also try to have some face to face meetings to enhance people’s understanding and bring our people closer,” he said.

Currently, China has suspended flights and visa facilitation to Indians for over one-and-a-half years. Due to this, over 23,000 Indian medical students studying in Chinese universities are stuck in India and could not return to re-join their colleges.

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