India responds to new Chinese foreign minister’s comments in US magazine
External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said ensuring peace and tranquillity in the border areas is essential for the development of India-China relationship
India on Thursday reiterated its call for peace and tranquillity in border areas for the development of the relationship with China in the face of comments by the new Chinese foreign minister about both sides being willing to ease the situation in relation to the standoff on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Asked about Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang’s comments in an article he authored last month, external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a weekly media briefing: “You are aware of India’s long-standing position – that ensuring peace and tranquillity in the border areas is essential for the development of our relationship.”
“So too is the observance of bilateral agreements and refraining from unilateral attempts to change the status quo of the boundary,” he added.
In the article titled “How China sees the world” that Qin wrote for the US-based magazine, The National Interest, shortly before he was named the new foreign minister, he said: “As to the border issues between China and India, the status quo is that both sides are willing to ease the situation and jointly protect peace along their borders.”
That was the sole reference to India in the article, which dwelt on China’s foreign policy outlook on a range of global issues.
India and China have been locked in a military standoff in Ladakh sector of the LAC since May 2020. A deadly clash in Galwan Valley in June 2020, which killed 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops, took ties to their lowest point in nearly six decades. Tensions between the two sides spiked again after a skirmish between Indian and Chinese troops at Yangtse in the Arunachal Pradesh sector on December 9.
The Chinese side has said the border standoff should be put in its “appropriate place” while the two sides take forward their ties in other areas such as trade. India has insisted that the overall relationship cannot be normalised without peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar recently reiterated that China was the first to violate bilateral agreements by massing troops along the LAC and that the tense situation in the border areas is solely due to the Chinese side not observing these pacts on border management.
In response to another question on China allegedly constructing structure on territory claimed by the Indian side, Bagchi said: “I have a lot of faith in our armed forces to defend our territory.”
He said there were ongoing discussions and regular contacts with China through military and diplomatic channels to address the standoff and these are the “mechanisms through which our concerns about Chinese activities are conveyed”. The two sides also discuss ways to “get back to a degree of normalcy and de-escalation and disengagement at the border”, he said.
Bagchi side-stepped a question on the World Health Organization (WHO) contending that China is under reporting Covid-19 numbers, and said India has encouraged all countries to closely coordinate with WHO to help the world prepare better through the sharing of information. “We hope countries will closely coordinate with WHO and share necessary information so that we can come out of Covid faster,” he added.
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