Amid row, China blames India for border tension

“As to China-India relations the merits of the matters are very clear and responsibility does not rest with China,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin said on Monday.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin speaks during the daily briefing in Beijing.(AP file photo)
China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin speaks during the daily briefing in Beijing.(AP file photo)
Updated on Feb 15, 2022 08:17 AM IST
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BySutirtho Patranobis, Beijing

China on Monday sought to blame India for the dragging border conflict in eastern Ladakh, a day after external affairs minister S Jaishankar said the current boundary deadlock arose because Beijing disregarded written bilateral agreements not to amass troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

“As to China-India relations the merits of the matters are very clear and responsibility does not rest with China,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin said on Monday.

Wang was responding to questions on remarks Jaishankar made in Melbourne during and after the foreign ministers’ meeting under the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad over the weekend.

Wang said New Delhi and Beijing were “in communication” to improve management of the border.

“Now the two sides are in communication on improving the border management and the measures to build trust. We hope the Indian-side will abide by our agreements, do not issue irresponsible remarks and uphold the peace and tranquillity along the border region with concrete actions,” Wang added.

Disregarding India’s argument that Beijing broke the border-related agreements, Wang said Beijing’s stand is that both countries should follow through on treaties.

“On the border issue, China always maintains that we should follow through on treaties and agreements we signed and we jointly uphold peace and tranquility at the border region,” Wang said.

“We hope the two sides will continue to maintain communication through military and diplomatic channels to resolve the outstanding issues,” the spokesperson said.

There was no immediate response from Indian officials to Wang’s remarks.

In unusually direct words, Jaishankar said the “…situation has arisen due to the disregard by China in 2020 of written agreements with us, not to amass forces at the border. So, when a large country disregards written commitments, I think it’s an issue of legitimate concern for the entire international community.”

India and China have been locked in a border standoff since May, 2020 and several rounds of military and diplomatic talks have only resulted in partial disengagement of troops from friction points.

Two Sino-India agreements are critical to maintaining peace along the border: the 1993 Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the LAC in the Sino-Indian Border, and the 1996

Agreement between India and China on Confidence-Building Measures in the Military Field along the LAC in the Sino-Indian Border

The two sides have blamed each other for the ongoing tension and resulting slump in ties, and tens of thousands of troops are said to be deployed along either side of the LAC.

China’s official statements have been accompanied by continuous propaganda though official media and social media platforms where New Delhi has been painted as the aggressor.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has simultaneously kept its propaganda pitch shrill, frequently publishing stories and developments related to the families of the four Chinese soldiers who died in the clash with Indian troops at Galwan Valley in June, 2020.

Only last week, China made light of India’s outrage at its decision to field a military officer involved in the Galwan Valley clash as a torchbearer for the ongoing Winter Olympics, saying not too much should be read into it politically.

Look at the decision rationally and don’t read too much into it politically, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

India last week announced that its current top diplomat in China, charge d’affaires at the embassy in Beijing, Acquino Vimal, will skip both the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games because Qi Fabao, the PLA’s regiment commander involved in the June 15, 2020 clash with Indian troops in Galwan Valley, was chosen by China as one of the torchbearers ahead of the Games’ opening.

Qi, who sustained a serious head injury during the clashes, was among the 1200 torchbearers at a torch relay in Beijing on Wednesday.

India lost 20 troops in the clash and four Chinese soldiers also died.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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