China on Monday said that maintaining bilateral ties with India was one of Beijing’s future diplomatic priorities, PTI reported. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a press briefing that Beijing will continue to improve relations with neighbouring countries.

His comments came in the aftermath of a standoff with India along the Line of Actual Control. The clashes between troops of the two countries led to the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley on June 15. Both the countries have held several rounds of disengagement talks, but the process is yet to be completed. China has refused to vacate areas along the undefined border that were traditionally patrolled by the Indian Army.

“For the China-India relationship, the two sides should jointly safeguard peace and security in the border areas and maintain a steady and sound development of bilateral ties,” Zhao told reporters. “We will continue to deepen strategic mutual trust and expand shared interests with our neighbors and other developing countries.”

The spokesperson was responding to questions about China’s diplomatic priorities in future amid the coronavirus pandemic. “China has always pursued an independent foreign policy of peace, and will always be a builder of world peace, contributor to global development and defender of the international order,” Zhao added. “We will continue to improve relations with neighboring countries, strengthen solidarity and cooperation with other developing countries, advocate the building of a community of common health for mankind, firmly uphold China’s sovereignty and security interests, and endeavor to fulfill the purpose of diplomacy for the people.”