Peace on border linked to future ties, India tells China

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

By Amit Agnihotri

New Delhi: Peace on the India-China border and the future of ties between the two countries cannot be separated, India today bluntly told the Asian dragon amidst an ongoing face off along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh.

India is concerned over China going back a mutually-agreed disengagement of troops along the LAC, which showed some progress in July but has stalled for nearly a month now.

“The state of (the) border and (the) future of our ties cannot be separated,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, in a terse remark hinting that peace on the border was directly linked to the future of India-China relations.

India’s firm response came a day after Ambassador of China to India Sun Weidong, while writing in an embassy publication, said that the onus for the June 15 deadly clashes in the Galwan Valley, was not on China.

In a fierce hand-to-hand fight, Indian Army lost 20 soldiers, while trying to stop the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops from violating the LAC. Unconfirmed reports said PLA too suffered around 40 casualties.

That single incident exposed the Chinese intentions to the world and took away trust between the two countries. To make matters worse, China blamed India for the clashes and even made unacceptable claims over the Galwan Valley.

Three months down the line, instead of showing any maturity, the Chinese ambassador sang the same tune. “We urge the Indian side to conduct a thorough investigation, hold the violators accountable, strictly discipline the front line troops, and immediately stop all provocative acts to ensure such incidents will not occur again,” Weidong said, infuriating the Indian establishment.

On Aug. 12, spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, Ji Rong said in a statement that China hoped the Indian side can meet the Chinese side halfway, refrain from any actions that will complicate the border situation, and create favorable conditions for maintaining peace and stability in the border areas and healthy development of bilateral relations.

Over the past months, Chinese aggression along the LAC and showing no inclination to restore border peace has led relations between the two countries to nosedive.

As the India’s army and Chinese PLA face each other along the LAC in eastern Ladakh, China has refused to pull back troops from the Finger 4 ridge on the Pangong Tso and from Depsang plains.

The face off that started in May remains unresolved despite several military and diplomatic talks between the two countries including the July 5 talks between the two Special Representatives on the India-China border issue, India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

More talks will take place in the future, said Srivastava, as he reminded China to first implement the mutually-agreed disengagement on the ground.

“Both sides have agreement on broad principles of disengagement based on which some progress was earlier made. Let me add that translating these principles on ground is a complex process that requires redeployment of troops by each side towards their regular posts on respective sides of the LAC. It is natural that this can be done only through mutually agreed reciprocal actions,” said Srivastava.

“While we would like the disengagement process to be completed at the earliest, it is important to bear in mind that it requires achievement of mutually agreed actions.”

The Indian armed forces are fully prepared to counter any PLA threat along the LAC but India still prefers to resolve the border dispute through a dialogue.

To show that resolve, Ambassador of India to People’s Republic of China Vikram Misri today met China’s Director of the Office of International Military Cooperation of the Central Military Commission Major General Ci Guowei and briefed him on India’s stance vis-à-vis the situation on the borders in eastern Ladakh.

On Aug 12, Misri had met China’s Deputy Director of the Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee Foreign Affairs Commission Liu Jianchao to brief him on India’s position on the LAC issue and also discussed the overall bilateral relations.

“We expect the Chinese side to sincerely work with us towards complete disengagement of troops and restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” said Srivastava.

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