India calls China bluff on Ladakh border peace

File Photo: India’s external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.

By Amit Agnihotri

New Delhi: India today called China‘s bluff on border peace between the two nations, saying the mutually agreed disengagement at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh was not yet complete.

“There is some progress but the process of disengagement is not yet completed,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said when asked about the recent Chinese claims.

On July 28, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in Beijing that “as border troops have disengaged in most localities, the situation on the ground is de-escalating and the temperature is coming down.”

The de-escalation of India-China border tensions started July 6, a day after the Special Representatives of the two countries on the boundary question — Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi spoke.

Of late, there has been concern in India on the Chinese delay in implementing the mutually agreed disengagement and not withdrawing the Chinese People’s Liberation Army troopers from the Finger 4 ridge in Pongong Tso, a boomerang-shaped lake one-third of which is in Indian control and the rest two-thirds in Chinese control, apart from Depsang Plains.

The standoff that started in early May has led to the two armies facing each other along the LAC in eastern Ladakh for nearly three months now, a confrontation that has concerned the world powers.

Besides the two Special Representatives talking, there have been regular diplomatic and military dialogues between the two sides to peacefully resolve the border dispute.

On July 24, diplomats of the two countries reviewed the hiccups and agreed to implement full disengagement along the LAC during their 17th virtual meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India and China Border Affairs (WMCC). But still, the Chinese side continued to play games, creating doubts about its intentions.

Ahead of the fifth meeting of senior army commanders of the two sides expected to take place soon, India again reminded China to honour the consensus reached during the previous consultations.

“We hope the Chinese side will work with us to ensure full disengagement and restoration of peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas,” said Srivastava.

Interestingly, while China continued to show stubbornness in rolling out peace along the LAC after violating the sanctity of the de facto border, Ambassador of China in India Sun Weidong talked peace, while delivering a lecture at a webinar on ‘China-India Relations: The Way Forward‘ hosted by the New Delhi-based Institute for Chinese Studies.

In a series of tweets, Weidong said:

There comments by the Chinese ambassador to India were quite farcical, after having forced a war on India in 1962, bloody battles of 1967, the 2017 Doklam crisis, and the June 15 clash at Galwan Valley that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and over 40 Chinese troopers as casualties, apart from the innumerable annual incursions into the Indian side of the LAC.

During the past few rounds of talks over the present Ladakh conflict, India has made it clear to China that any unilateral changes in the LAC was not acceptable to the South Asian giant.

Responding to the recent Chinese attempt to rope in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal over fighting COVID-19, India reminded the Asian dragon that India Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in fact brought together the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) over the pandemic as early as in March.

The regional grouping, said Srivastava, had set up a fund to help out the member-nations, who had received medical supplies from India since then.

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