Don’t be suspicious, China tells India on Galwan anniversary
India needs to stop being suspicious of China and work with Beijing to strengthen ties instead of working towards building obstacles, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Tuesday, a year after deadly clashes in the Galwan Valley and months after New Delhi said bilateral ties were “very significantly damaged” by Beijing’s violation of border agreements.
The two countries can gradually improve bilateral ties and promote pragmatic cooperation by managing the border issue and preventing differences from escalating into disputes, the Chinese ministry said in a statement exclusively shared with Hindustan Times in context of the deadly June 15 clash, which left soldiers on both sides’ dead.
New Delhi has repeatedly dismissed Beijing’s attempts to blame India for the ongoing border tension in eastern Ladakh, saying China’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) troops illegally trespassed across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) last year in May.
India’s external affairs ministry has also spelt out the Indian government’s position on the disengagement process, saying the LAC “must be strictly respected and observed as this is the basis for peace and tranquility in the border areas”.
China, the statement said, urges India to cherish the hard-won situation of easing in the border areas and abide by the relevant agreements and preliminary meetings between the two countries and the armed forces; India should work with China and take practical actions to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas, it added.
The rare acknowledgment that there’s a need to “improve ties” by the Chinese foreign ministry is an indication of the state of the relationship, which is at its worst in decades.
“Hereby, I would like to stress that the two sides should stick to the strategic consensus reached by the leaders of both countries, unswervingly follow the right track of mutual trust and cooperation between neighbouring countries without following the wrong track of suspicion and the negative and (taking) retrogressive steps,” the statement from the foreign ministry spokesperson’s office said.
As two major emerging economies, India and China should work towards joint development, move forward side by side instead of containing each other, and develop through cooperation instead of building obstacles against each other.
At present, the statement said, the India-China border situation is generally stable, and the two sides have maintained communication through diplomatic and military means to solve the remaining issues concerning the western part of the border.
A year later, the disengagement of troops is still not complete despite 11 rounds of military and seven rounds of diplomatic talks – under the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs – having taken place.
The ministry said India and China should not make the differences on the boundary dictate overall bilateral ties. “The boundary dispute between China and India is an objective reality, but the boundary issue is not the whole story of China-India relations. It should be placed in the proper place of bilateral relations and managed effectively so as to prevent differences from escalating into disputes,” the statement said.
New Delhi has told Beijing that given the seriousness of the Galwan Valley incident, it cannot be business as usual – and the border dispute cannot be swept under the carpet.
Commenting on the state of bilateral ties, a Shanghai-based expert on India said both countries need to take a long-term look at the relationship. “Cooperation among our two civilised countries is neither a one-time deal, nor a short-term activity. For this reason, we should take a long-term view and conduct sustainable cooperation. No matter what difficulties and setbacks we may encounter, we should constantly promote mutually beneficial cooperation,” Wang Dehua, a South Asia expert at Shanghai Municipal Centre for International Studies, said.