India's envoy to China, Vikram Misri, has said "shifting of goalposts" should be avoided in bilateral relations as they serve as an obstacle that could block progress. Speaking at a virtual dialogue organised by a Chinese university, Mr Misri said challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, reviving economies and sweeping technological transformations have only served to amplify the importance of India-China relations.
He said the recent experience between the two countries suggests that at the ground level, when managing a difficult situation, finding a resolution hinges on mature minds and consistency between words and actions.
"The first is to avoid shifting goalposts. For long, the Indian and Chinese sides have adhered to a well-understood distinction between resolving the boundary question and managing border affairs," he said.
The ambassador highlighted how the pre-existing mechanism, agreements and protocols have helped both nations manage border affairs.
"...For managing border affairs on a daily basis, we evolved a mechanism, consisting of instruments such as the WMCC and a succession of agreements, protocols and CBMs, in order to govern behaviour on the ground and ensure peace and tranquillity," he said, referring to working mechanism for consultation and coordination and confidence building measures.
A serious violation of peace and tranquillity in the border areas "naturally requires us to apply our minds" on the basis of established agreements, protocols and mechanisms to resolve it, Mr Misri added.
Pointing out another obstacle that affects bilateral ties, the ambassador argued against taking a one-sided view of concerns and sensitivities, where one's own preoccupations trump any of those flagged by the other side.
"As EAM (External Affairs Minister) Dr S Jaishankar has stated, India-China relations must proceed on the basis of the three mutuals - mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests," Mr Misri said.
He spoke against viewing bilateral relations through the prism of relations with other countries. "We are two ancient civilizations and two modern Asian nations who have evolved their own independent foreign policies and cherish their own strategic autonomy."
During his address, Mr Misri raised concerns about terrorism in the region and the consequent threats to peace and security that have re-emerged with the unravelling of the situation in Afghanistan.
The virtual event was also attended by Chinese envoy to India, Sun Weidong.