Committed to peace, says Chinese defence ministry in 1st remark on Ladakh standoff
The situation on the India-China border is “stable and controllable”, the Chinese defence ministry has said in its first comments on the ongoing standoff between border troops of the two countries in eastern Ladakh and Sikkim.
The ministry said both countries have the wherewithal to resolve the situation through established communication mechanisms without directly commenting on US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate between Beijing and New Delhi on the boundary problem.
The ministry’s first statement comes in the backdrop of the standoff in eastern Ladakh between the militaries of India and China this month.
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“China’s position on the China-India border is clear. The Chinese border troops are committed to maintaining peace and tranquility in the border areas,” defence ministry spokesperson, Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang said at the monthly ministry briefing on Thursday.
“At present, the situation in the China-India border areas is stable and controllable on the whole,” Ren said at the briefing, which was held online in Mandarin.
“The two sides have the ability to communicate and solve relevant issues through the established border-related mechanisms and diplomatic channels,” Ren added.
The defence ministry’s response to a question on the India-China border situation on Thursday was almost word-to-word the same as the Chinese foreign ministry’s statement on Wednesday – “stable and controllable” being one of the specific phrases that was repeated.
It is possibly a sign that the Chinese government is not willing to allow the situation to worsen through a war of words with New Delhi.
To be sure, India has rejected China’s assertion that its troops had carried out illegal constructions across the LAC.
“India is committed to the objective of maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas with China and our armed forces scrupulously follow the consensus reached by our leaders and the guidance provided. At the same time, we remain firm in our resolve to ensure India’s sovereignty and national security,” Anurag Srivastav, external affairs ministry spokesperson said earlier this week.
While the Chinese government is yet to officially comment on Trump’s offer to mediate, state-controlled media here has dismissed the US President’s proposal, which he had tweeted.
“The latest dispute can be solved bilaterally by China and India. The two countries should keep alert on the US, which exploits every chance to create waves that jeopardize regional peace and order,” the nationalistic tabloid Global Times said in a comment piece.
Titled “China, India don’t need US help on their frictions”, it said: “It seems Trump finally knows that China and India, the two largest Asian powers, share borders. Early this year, A Very Stable Genius, a book written by two Washington Post journalists, revealed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was shocked and concerned when Trump told him India and China did not share a border.”
“Last year, India turned down Trump’s offer to ‘help’ and ‘mediate’ between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, an issue India stressed can only be discussed bilaterally. India perhaps has been aware of the US’ bad history of mediation in which the US made troubles rather than solved problems, and which turned bilateral disputes into multilateral ones,” it said.
New Delhi has subtly rejected Trump’s offer.
“As I’ve told you, we are engaged with the Chinese side to peacefully resolve this issue,” Srivastava said when asked about Trump’s tweet on Thursday.