Sensational reports are harmful to China-India relationship, it said

A commentary issued by China’s official Xinhua news agency on Tuesday hit out at the Indian media for “hyping” the situation along the disputed border, following reports in recent days of new incursions by Chinese troops.

The commentary said “sensational reports” were “harmful to the China-India relationship”, and it accused media reports of “sour[ing] to some extent the atmosphere” of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang May 2013 visit to India.

Media reports, Xinhua added, “have only served to further sow misunderstandings between Indians and Chinese even at a time when their leaders are working hard to manage their differences and to build a constructive relationship that can benefit both sides”.

The commentary did not, however, provide any information or details to counter any of the recent reports of incursions by Chinese troops.

On Monday, media reports said around 50 Chinese soldiers riding on horses had intruded into the Chumar area on July 16. In April, relations were strained following a three-week stand-off in Depsang, also in the western section of the disputed border, after Chinese troops put up a tent.

Officials in both countries have publicly played down the incidents, pointing out that as perceptions of the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) were differing, patrols by both sides would be seen as incursions by the other in areas where claims were overlapping. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has maintained that its troops did not venture beyond what it saw as the LAC.

However, in recent months, changes in the patterns of Chinese patrols, in part enabled by improvements in infrastructure, have led to a number of increasingly frequent reports of incursions into what India sees as its territory and what is seen as aggressive patrolling.

Before the Depsang incident, for instance, Chinese troops had only carried out patrols up to their claim lines and returned to their bases, and had not, in the recent past, set up a tent in a disputed area to assert their claims.

On Tuesday, officials from India and China met in New Delhi as part of a border consultation and coordination mechanism meeting in order to improve communication and trust. Earlier this month, during Defence Minister A. K. Antony’s visit to China, both sides also agreed to increase the frequency and number of locations of border personnel meetings in order to prevent the recurrence of incidents such as the Depsang stand-off.

Without directly referring to either Chumar or Depsang, the Xinhua commentary said it was “unwise to let isolated incidents along the border to negatively affect the promising China-India relationship”.

“The disputes, a historical hangover, were not created in one day, neither will they be resolved overnight”, it said, adding that “fortunately, Beijing and New Delhi, with political wisdom, made joint efforts to defuse the tensions [in a] timely [manner]”. The commentary also called on both countries to boost trade ties and joint

investments, pointing out that “despite sometimes frosty political relations, China has become one of India’s top trading partners”.

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