Beijing: Welcoming National Security Advisor Ajit Doval's appointment as Special Representative for Sino- India boundary negotiations, China on Tuesday refuted reports that it had sought a higher level official for the talks which have reached a "critical stage" of arriving at a final settlement.
"Doval was elected as the Special Representative of India on China-India boundary issue. China welcomes that and will congratulate him through appropriate channels," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a media briefing here.
Answering a question, she, however, refuted reports that China wanted a higher level representation from the protocol point view to match that of Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, who as Counsellor in the State Council enjoying Minister rank.
"I have never heard that," Hua said about differences over the rank.
Officials here say that China will be happy with Doval's appointment as like his predecessor.
In the past, NSA, with the rank of Minister of State, has generally been the Special Representative on boundary talks with China. However, it was not clear whether Doval, who was appointed NSA in May, has been given the MoS rank now.
Earlier reports in India said that issues of protocol propped up when the government considered options to appoint former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran as Special Representative for the boundary talks.
After taking over as NSA, Doval visited Beijing in September ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to India and held talks with him and other top officials.
Sounding upbeat about the progress made in the 17 rounds of talks, Hua said both sides have made it clear that pending the final agreement they will work together to safeguard the peace and stability of the border area.
"Now we have reached a critical stage of reaching a final agreement and we have some principles already in place," she said referring to an agreement reached by the two countries on guiding principles in 2005 to settle the dispute.
"We will work with the Indian side to move forward our negotiations and we will continue to follow the spirit of peace, amity, equal consultations and mutual respect and mutual accommodation so that final settlement that is equal, reasonable and acceptable to all can be reached and the border issue between our two countries can be settled at an early date," she said.
Chinese position is that the border dispute is confined to 2,000 kms mostly in Arunachal Pradesh while India asserts that the dispute covered the western side of the border spanning about 4,000 km.
India and China had established in 2003 the mechanism of Special Representatives to thrash out a resolution to the vexed boundary question. The two sides have so far held 17 rounds of talks, making some progress.
The last round was held in February in Delhi between the then NSA Shivshankar Menon and Yang.