China again blames India for border friction, talks of challenges in ties
India and China are facing challenges in bilateral ties, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday, blaming New Delhi for the ongoing border friction along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
Common efforts were needed to maintain good relations between China and India, ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
Beijing was responding to Indian external affairs minister, S Jaishankar’s statement during an international think-tank interaction on Wednesday, saying bilateral ties are at the “most difficult phase” in the last three to four decades in the backdrop of the months-long impasse at the border.
Referring to the ongoing standoff and Beijing’s role in violating existing bilateral agreements to keep the border peaceful, Jaishankar said: “Now for some reason, for which the Chinese have given us five different explanations, the Chinese have violated it.”
What began as a military faceoff along the disputed LAC early May has triggered economic and cultural discord between the two neighbours with New Delhi and Beijing grappling for ways to resolve the deadlock.
Asked to comment on Jaishankar’s statement, the Chinese foreign ministry – as it has done before – blamed New Delhi for the troubles.
“The merits of the situation at the border area is very clear and the responsibility totally lies with the Indian side. China has been strictly observing the agreements signed between the two sides and committed to resolving the border issue through dialogue and we are committed to safeguarding regional peace and tranquillity at border areas,” Hua said.
New Delhi has repeatedly dismissed Beijing’s claims, saying it was the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops who had illegally trespassed the LAC.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had earlier 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 tranquillity in the border areas”
Spokesperson Hua instead tried to portray China as a victim of aggression from India and said it will protect its territory.
“In the meantime, we are determined in safeguarding our territorial sovereignty. We hope India can work with us and contribute to solidarity, cooperation and common development,” she said.
“But like all sovereign states we are determined in safeguarding our territorial integrity. So, on the Indian side, I think this is a serious question on what it should reflect upon. There are challenges in bilateral relations but China’s position and policy on India hasn’t changed,” Hua said.
Referring to the boundary issue with India, she said: “On the historical issues, China believes that we should find fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solutions based on equal footed consultation and put it on the proper position in our bilateral relations.”
“We hope we can reach consensus, properly manage differences, enhance practical cooperation and bring our bilateral relations back on the right track,” Hua said.
On Tuesday, Hua gave no definitive answer when asked when the next rounds of talks between the two countries would be held or what was causing the delay.
“China and India have been in communication through diplomatic and military channels on the border issue and we are working for further de-escalation of the border situation,” Hua added.
“Based on the implementation of the current consensus, we will have consultations to determine specific arrangements for further talks,” Hua said without giving any indications when future talks will be held.
Though the standoff began in May, diplomatic relations have been particularly tense since June, when at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in Galwan Valley after being attacked by Chinese troops using rocks and clubs.
Beijing hasn’t revealed the PLA’s casualty figures.
Several rounds of talks including eight military-level dialogues – the last one held on November 8 – have yielded no result as the standoff continues in eastern Ladakh.