Striking a conciliatory tone after raising tensions in eastern Ladakh to a fever pitch, China on Thursday said it was ready to work with India to properly deal with the border standoff while noting that “suspicion and friction” was a wrong path that goes against the fundamental aspirations of people of the two countries.
In an interview to PTI, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidon said India and China are able to properly manage their differences, and called upon New Delhi to avoid taking actions that may “complicate” the situation in eastern Ladakh. He went on to add that at present, the overall situation in the China-India border areas is “stable and controllable.”
“We hope the Indian side meets the Chinese side halfway, avoids taking actions that may complicate the border situation and takes concrete actions to maintain stability in the border areas,” he said.
The Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for the last six weeks, and the tension escalated manifold after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash in Galwan Valley on June 15.
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The Chinese ambassador said “mutual respect and support” is a sure way and meets the long-term interests of both countries, but at the same time, largely put the onus on India to ease tension in the region.
“China and India are both large developing countries and emerging economies with more than one billion people, and both have the historic mission of realising our own development and revitalisation,” he said.
He further said: “China and India are willing and able to properly manage differences. In the last few weeks, both sides have held a series of diplomatic and military talks to cool down temperature even as Chinese military has increased its presence in all sensitive areas along the 3,500 km Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de-facto border.
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At a weekly media briefing, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava on Thursday said Chinese side departed from previously agreed understanding in respect the Galwan Valley area and sought to erect structures just across the LAC.
“When this attempt was foiled, Chinese troops took violent actions on June 15 that directly resulted in casualties,” the spokesperson asserted.
He said the conduct of Chinese forces this year has been in complete disregard of all mutually agreed norms.
The ambassador said:”Mutual respect and support is a sure way and meets the long-term interests of both countries; suspicion and friction is a wrong path and goes against the fundamental aspiration of the two peoples.”
“Under the guidance of the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, we are ready to work with the Indian side to properly deal with the current situation, jointly uphold peace and stability in the border areas, and ensure a sound and steady development of bilateral relations,” Sun said.
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In their historic informal summit in Chinese city of Wuhan in 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping underscored the importance of maintaining peace and tranquillity in all areas of the India-China border region in the interest of the development of bilateral relations.
The summit had taken place months after a 73-day military face-off between the two armies in Doklam that raised fears of a war between the two Asian giants.
In the course of the interview, Sun repeated the Chinese government’s stand — which has been rejected by India — that Indian troops are responsible for the Galwan Valley clashes, and indicated that the onus was on India to improve the situation in eastern Ladakh.
“The onus is not on China. The Indian side crossed the LAC (Line of Actual Control) for provocation and attacked the Chinese border troops. The Indian forces seriously violated agreements on border issues between the two countries,” he said.
After the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in Galwan clashes, India called it “a premeditated and planned action by China” and sent a veiled warning to China saying “India wants peace but if provoked, India is capable of giving a befitting reply”.
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Referring to talks between foreign ministers of the two countries on June 17, the envoy said both sides agreed to “fairly address” the serious situation caused by the Galwan conflict and vowed to jointly follow the consensus reached at the commander-level meeting on June 6 to ease the situation as soon as possible.
Sun said China would not like to see a similar situation like the Galwan clashes, repeating Chinese foreign ministry’s allegations that India was responsible for it.
The Ambassador said the two sides kept peace for decades in Galwan Valley, adding since the beginning of 2020, the Indian side has built facilities at or the crossing of the LAC in the Galwan Valley, “constantly changing the status quo of ground control. On May 6, he claimed the Indian troops crossed the LAC in the Galwan Valley by night and trespassed into Chinese territory.
“They resorted to violent means to create a standoff between the two sides and built infrastructures in an attempt to maintain a permanent presence,” he alleged.
India has been maintaining that Galwan Valley belongs to it and has strongly rejected China’s claim of sovereignty over it.
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Sun said Chinese side lodged representations on multiple occasions to the Indian side through military and diplomatic channels following the incident and that India agreed to withdraw its personnel from the area. The two sides held Lt General-level talks on June 6 during which they agreed on disengagement of troops from all the standoff areas.
The ambassador said the Indian side promised in the talks that they would not cross the estuary of the Galwan river to patrol and build facilities, adding the two sides agreed to build observation posts on either side of the Galwan river mouth.
“However, after the commander-level meeting, when the situation on the ground was already easing, the Indian border troops copped out on the consensus reached at the commander-level meeting, demanded that China dismantle its observation post,” he said.
India has been consistently maintaining that Galwan Valley clashes had taken place on the Indian side of the LAC. The envoy said actions taken by the Indian side are not in consonance with the spirit of several agreements signed by the two countries.