China’s envoy cheers Jaishankar-Wang roadmap, then blames India for tension
Sun Weidong’s statement, issued in a question and answer format, blamed New Delhi for trespassing on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and altering the status quo.Updated: Sep 14, 2020 21:53 IST
Chinese envoy Sun Weidong on Monday said the five-point roadmap agreed to by India and China to address tensions on the disputed border provides “political impetus” to efforts to ease the situation, even as he blamed New Delhi for trespassing the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and altering the status quo.
Sun made the remarks in a lengthy statement issued by the Chinese embassy three days after the two sides finalised the five-point roadmap during a meeting of external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the margins of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet in Moscow on Thursday.
There was no immediate response to the Chinese envoy’s remarks from Indian officials.
Despite the roadmap, sharp divergences remained between the two sides, with experts pointing out that the joint statement issued after the Jaishankar-Wang meeting made no mention of the restoration of the status quo on the LAC as it existed in April.
Sun said the five-point consensus – which includes following the top leaders’ consensus, easing tensions, maintaining peace and tranquillity in border areas, continuing diplomatic communications, and expediting work on new confidence-building measures – “is an important step towards the right direction, and will provide political impetus to ease the border situation and promote the bilateral relations”.
He added, “I hope and believe that as long as the two sides earnestly implement the consensus reached by the two foreign ministers to the frontline troops and adhere to the correct means of dialogue and negotiation, the two sides will find a way to overcome the current difficulties.”
The Chinese envoy contended that “public opinion in India” was generally positive towards the five-point roadmap, and was of the view that “both sides have demonstrated political will to resolve the border situation”.
However, Sun referred to statements by relevant Indian ministries that Indian troops “pre-empted” Chinese military activity on the south bank of Pangong Lake, and contended this “obviously revealed that there are illegal trespassing the LAC and status quo change in the border areas (sic)”.
He noted that sections of the Indian media had quoted government sources to disclose that the “Indian Army fired shots on two different occasions”, and said, “For the first time since 1975, the calm in the border areas was broken by gunfire.”
Sun further noted that Wang had reiterated during his meeting with Jaishankar that the “imperative is to immediately stop provocations such as firing and other dangerous actions that violate the commitments made by the two sides”, and that it is “important to move back all personnel and equipment that have trespassed”.
He added, “The frontier troops must quickly disengage so that the situation may deescalate. The Chinese side supports enhanced dialogue between the frontier troops on both sides to solve specific issues, and will stay in touch with the Indian side through diplomatic and military channels.”
The Indian side has blamed the tensions on the LAC on unilateral efforts by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to alter the status quo in the Ladakh sector. It has also blamed the latest flare-ups on the LAC on “provocative military manoeuvres” by the PLA.
The external affairs ministry has said the PLA engaged in such manoeuvres during August 29-30 to change the status quo on the south bank of Pangong Lake and Indian troops responded with “appropriate defensive measures”. The Indian Army has accused the PLA of firing in the air when Chinese troops were prevented from closing in on an Indian forward position on September 7.
The Chinese envoy said the “way ahead for [a] solution is very clear” – he pointed to the agreement reached by the two foreign ministers that as the situation eases, the two sides should expedite work on new confidence-building measures to maintain and enhance peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
Sun said the top leadership of the two countries had reached a series of consensus, including the basic judgement that China and India are partners rather than rivals. “Therefore, we need peace instead of confrontation; we need to pursue win-win cooperation instead of zero-sum game; we need trust rather than suspicion; we need to move our relationship forward rather than backward,” he said.
He reiterated Wang Yi’s observation that it is normal for China and India to have differences, but it is important is to put these differences in a proper context vis-a-vis bilateral ties. “At present, the challenge we’re facing is to fight the epidemic, revive the economy and improve people’s livelihoods,” he said.