Let’s cooperate, not confront each other, says Chinese envoy

Updated on Jun 10, 2021 12:47 AM IST

Commenting that the Sino-India border dispute is a legacy of history, Chinese ambassador to India Sun Weidong said at an online interaction with Indian youth leaders on Tuesday that the boundary question should be kept in the right place in the bilateral ties

China's ambassador to India, Sun Weidong. (File photo)
China's ambassador to India, Sun Weidong. (File photo)
BySutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

India and China should cooperate, not confront each other, and resolve differences over the border dispute through consultation and dialogue, the Chinese ambassador to New Delhi Sun Weidong has said. Sun called the dispute a legacy of history and added the boundary question should be kept in the “right place” in the bilateral ties between the two countries.

“It is normal for countries to have differences. Border disputes are a legacy of history and should be placed in the right place in bilateral relations,” Sun said. He added that Beijing believes in resolving border disputes through dialogue and consultation.

“At the same time, our determination to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests is unwavering. China and India should respect each other, treat each other equally, engage in dialogue and consultation, and properly resolve their differences to find a solution acceptable to both sides,” Sun said during an online interaction with Indian youth leaders on Tuesday.

Sun added that China and India should concentrate on dealing with the pandemic and reviving the economy.

His comments came in the backdrop of the ongoing border friction along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

India has said in recent months that complete disengagement at all friction points on the LAC and peace and tranquillity in the border areas alone can lead to normalisation of ties in other spheres such as trade and investment.

Speaking to external affairs minister S Jaishankar in late February, Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, Wang Yi, similarly said the border dispute between India and China is a reality, should be taken seriously but should also be placed at an appropriate position in bilateral ties.

New Delhi has told Beijing that it cannot be business as usual, and the border dispute cannot be swept under the carpet until full disengagement is completed at friction points.

During his interaction, Sun responded to a question on the inability of thousands of stranded Indian students to return to China because of the pandemic. Sun gave no assurance about their return to China, indicating they have to continue online studies in the foreseeable future. He said relevant universities are expected to maintain close contact with overseas students, make arrangements for online teaching, and properly handle their legitimate concerns and demands.

A majority of the 23,000 Indian students studying in China have been unable to return because the Chinese government has not yet allowed foreign students to resume physical classes.

Sun indicated that China is unlikely to normalise international travel with India anytime soon. He added international travel increases the risk of Covid-19 infection spreading to the countries of destination.

He gave the example of the recent spike in Covid-19 cases in the southern trade hub of Guangzhou.

Like other countries around the world, China is also formulating its own pandemic prevention measures, he said, adding that both Chinese and foreigners are expected to comply with those rules.

Sun spoke about China’s offer to help India fight the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. He added China “did not stand idly by” in assisting its neighbour.

China was one of the first countries to offer support and assistance to India and one of the first to act, he said.

India has not accepted direct aid from Beijing but has not restricted private companies and traders from sourcing medical equipment and material from Chinese companies.

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    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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