China on Thursday said it believed the on-going stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh could be resolved “quickly”, but reiterated its position that its troops had not crossed over into Indian territory.
A third flag meeting between both sides held on Tuesday failed to defuse the stand-off, with recent reports saying China had reinforced its position by setting up a fifth tent and sending across supplies to its troops.
China, however, said on Thursday it believed on-going consultations between the Ministry of External Affairs and the Chinese Foreign Ministry through the joint mechanism on border affairs could bring about a quick resolution to the stand-off.
The Foreign Ministry also called on the media to “give more time and be more patient”, saying “the issue will be properly resolved soon through negotiation”.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular briefing "the relevant negotiation mechanism is conducive to solving the relevant issue quickly".
Ms. Hua did not directly reply to a question about when the Chinese troops would withdraw from their position. “This is a very specific question, but I want to reiterate that Chinese troops carry out normal patrols along the Chinese side of the LAC between China and India, and China and India are talking about the issue for a complete and appropriate settlement,” she said.
While officials say perceptions of the LAC are differing, neither side had taken the step of setting up tents in areas where claim-lines are overlapping - a move seen as escalating tensions.
Ms. Hua did not go into specifics regarding the outcome of Tuesday’s flag-meeting. To a question about reported Chinese demands for India to remove certain fortifications in Ladakh, Ms. Hua said “China is firmly opposed to any action that crosses the LAC.”
When asked if China believed that any Indian fortification had trespassed what it saw as the LAC, Ms. Hua only said both countries had “reached consensus [on maintaining peace and tranquillity in border areas] and we are firmly opposed to any action that violates that consensus”.
Ms. Hua stressed that the issue would not affect overall ties, when asked if the on-going tensions would cast a shadow on the expected visit of new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India on May 20.
“China and India are neighbours. The border has not been delineated. Therefore it is natural for problems to crop up from time to time. What is important is for both sides to solve this issue as soon as possible through dialogue and negotiation,” Ms. Hua said.
Separately on Thursday, the Communist Party-run Global Times, a widely-read tabloid known for its nationalistic views, in an editorial called on the Indian government to do more “to clarify the so-called "intrusion" in a timely way and assume the responsibility of maintaining a good atmosphere”.
“However, it hasn't done so,” the newspaper said. “It has remained silent and ambiguous, which indulges Indian media habits.”
The editorial said Indian officials had clarified the official position to the Chinese side and told them to not pay attention to “radical voices among some Indian media which sensationalise news”.
“Indian media have continuously created trouble for the Sino-Indian relationship,” the newspaper said. “Either the Indian government should stand up to report true information to Indian society, or it should let Chinese public opinion contend with India's.”
“The Indian public has been informed about Chinese troops' "intrusion" while provocative words uttered by Indian media and politicians can be read by Chinese people online. However, the reality is that communication over border issues between China and India has usually been smooth. Officials from both sides speak highly about the peaceful state of border areas,” the editorial said.
“China should firmly maintain its friendly policy toward India,” the newspaper added. “However, this doesn't mean that China will ignore provocations. Otherwise, the unhealthy tendency of hyping up China will keep happening.”