With India and China expected to continue working the channels at different levels to defuse the stand-off in eastern Ladakh, the Chinese government said on Thursday it believed the incident could be “properly handled” and would not affect “peace and stability in border areas as well as the normal development of India-China relations”.
China reiterated its position that it believed its troops were on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), but said both countries had the “willingness to solve the dispute through peaceful negotiations and consultations”.
“With the boundary not demarcated yet, it is inevitable for problems to crop up in border areas,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular briefing.
“When there is a problem in border areas, the two sides should resolve it through friendly consultations through existing mechanisms and channels. We believe this incident can also be properly handled and will not affect peace and stability of border areas as well as the normal development of India China relations.”
While Chinese officials maintain frontier troops did not cross the LAC, Indian officials have pointed out that although perceptions of where the line ran were indeed differing and both sides had carried out patrols in contested areas in the past, it was unprecedented for troops to set up a tented post in a disputed region.
Asked at a regular briefing on Thursday what prompted Chinese troops to trigger the recent tensions along the border, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters, “I don’t agree with your allegation that it is the Chinese side who provoked confrontation between border troops”.
“I will like to reiterate that Chinese troops have always acted in strict compliance with relevant treaties and protocols between two countries regarding protection of peace and security of areas along the LAC, and China is committed to protecting peace and stability of border areas as well as a negotiated settlement of the boundary issue left over from history.” “China’s troops,” Ms. Hua said, “have never crossed the line”.
The two sides, according to reports from New Delhi, are expected to have a third flag meeting to defuse the stand-off. At the previous flag meeting on Tuesday, the Chinese side was reported to have demanded the dismantling of recently set up Indian fortifications in eastern Ladakh.
Asked what conditions China had set to reach a deal to end the impasse, Ms. Hua said she was not aware of the latest situation on the ground. “Since I’m not in the frontier," she said, "I don’t know the latest development of frontier situation".
Ms. Hua said she hoped the media “can keep patience and create favourable conditions for the two countries to solve this issue”.
She said the consultation and coordination mechanism on boundary affairs, set up last year, had enabled “smooth communication” on the border issue.
Her comments were echoed by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid in New Delhi on Thursday.
“Let us allow that mechanism to find its solution and repeatedly it has found. And we have good reasons to believe that it should be able to do it again,” he was quoted as telling reporters by PTI.
Mr. Khurshid said he would go ahead with his visit to China on May 9, which is expected to lay the groundwork for Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to New Delhi next month – likely to be his first overseas trip after he took office in March.