India wants further talks with China for ‘mutually acceptable solution’ to LAC standoff
India on Thursday called for further discussions with China to reach a “mutually acceptable solution” on complete disengagement at all friction points on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) against the backdrop of the nearly eight-month border standoff.
The eighth and most recent round of talks between senior military commanders of India and China was held at Chushul along the LAC on November 6, and the two sides haven’t held any discussions since then as they were unable to bridge reported differences on pulling back troops and armoured vehicles at key friction points.
“It is our expectation that the further discussions will help both sides to achieve an agreement on a mutually acceptable solution for ensuring complete disengagement in all friction points along the LAC in the Western sector and full restoration of peace and tranquillity as early as possible,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava told a weekly news briefing.
Responding to a question on possible talks with China either between diplomats or military officials, Srivastava said several rounds of discussions held so far had led to better understanding on both sides.
“The two sides continue to maintain communication through diplomatic and military channels. These discussions have helped both sides to enhance understanding of each other’s positions,” he said.
India and China recently blamed each other for the situation along the LAC, where tens of thousands of troops from both sides have dug in for the winter. New Delhi has maintained that attempts by Chinese troops to unilaterally alter the status quo on the LAC and violation of several agreements for maintaining peace and tranquillity on the disputed border triggered the standoff.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar said on December 9 that China had given “five differing explanations” for deploying thousands of soldiers on the LAC and pushing bilateral ties into their most difficult phase ever. He also said ties were “very significantly damaged” by Beijing’s violation of border agreements.
In response to another question regarding media reports that a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was hired by the Indian consulate in Shanghai through a Chinese state-owned recruitment agency, Srivastava said the ministry wasn’t in a position to independently verify the information.
“In certain countries, the hiring of local staff requires the approval of local authorities. However, all our missions and posts ensure due security precautions in this regard,” he added.
Chinese embassy spokesperson Ji Rong said in a statement that such allegations of “CPC infiltration” were groundless and made out of “ideological prejudice”. She added: “The members of the CPC are not ‘monsters’...It is absolutely ridiculous and wantonly smearing to maliciously label CPC members [for] ‘espionage’.”
Responding to another question on Indian crew members of cargo vessels stranded at Chinese ports due to the China-Australia trade row, Srivastava said 23 Indian nationals were on board the MV Jag Anand, anchored near Jingtang port in Hebei province since June 13, and another 16 Indian nationals were on board MV Anastasia, anchored near Caofeidian port since September 20. Both vessels were waiting to discharge their cargo.
Chinese authorities have said crew change is not permitted at these ports because of Covid-19-related restrictions, and owners of shipping companies and receivers of the cargo were made aware of the delay in unloading the cargo.
“The government continues to be in regular touch with Chinese authorities to seek a resolution of these issues at the earliest and to ensure the humanitarian needs of the crew are taken care of,” Srivastava said.