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Border dispute dominates Xi Jinping's India visit


New Delhi (Sept 18, 2014): China is not a warlike nation, President Xi Jinping said on Thursday, during a rare trip to neighbour India that was dominated by a standoff on a barren Himalayan plateau between soldiers from the world's two most populous nations.

Robust comments from PM Narendra Modi about the dispute in territory claimed by both Asian giants overshadowed Xi's pledge of $30 billion investments in South Asia over five years, including $20 billion in India.

"A warlike state, however big it may be, will eventually perish," Xi said in a speech, adding that China believed its neighbours were key to its wellbeing.

He said China was committed to the path of peaceful development, addressing concerns in Asia about Beijing's increasingly assertive territorial claims including in the South China Sea, a vital global trade route.

But the mood was stern when Modi and Xi emerged from a long meeting to address reporters soon after officials confirmed that soldiers had pulled back from their positions in a western Himalayan region claimed by India and China.

"I raised our serious concern over repeated incidents along the border," said Modi, with Xi sitting to his right.

"There should be peace in our relations and in the borders. If this happens, we can realise (the) true potential of our relations," added Modi, a nationalist elected in May partly on promises to build a more assertive India.

Dozens of soldiers from both sides had faced off on the Ladakh plateau for over a week in a dispute about infrastructure works near the de facto border, where the two countries fought a brief war in 1962.

Raising hopes for a new push to resolve their territorial differences, Modi called for an early border settlement with China. The two sides have held 17 rounds of border talks since the early 1990s without making significant progress. Modi has yet to appoint a special envoy to restart the talks.

"We have to address the boundary question very soon," Modi said, urging "clarification" of the Line of Actual Control - the frontline where fighting ended.