Ladakh standoff National

Border situation cannot be swept under carpet, says Indian envoy to China

India’s envoy to China Vikram Misri. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Maintaining peace and tranquillity in the border areas is the “essential basis” to take forward India’s ties with China, India’s envoy to China Vikram Misri said on Monday.

There needed to be “respect for mutual concerns and sensitivities and for each other’s priorities”, Mr. Misri said in an interaction with Chinese scholars from think-tanks and universities in the southern city of Guangzhou, according to a statement from the Indian Embassy in Beijing.

Mr. Misri said, at another dialogue last week hosted by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA), there was “a tendency in some quarters to sweep this situation under the carpet and characterise it as just a minor issue and a matter of perspective”.

“This too is inadvisable as it can only take us further away from a sustained solution to present difficulties and deeper into an unfulfilling stalemate,” he said. “In fact, it would be tantamount to running away from the problem and in a direction opposite to that where the promise of our closer development partnership lies.”

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Talks between military commanders appear to remain deadlocked over carrying forward disengagement in the Gogra and Hot Springs areas following the completion of the first phase at Pangong Lake. China’s State media reported on Monday the People’s Liberation Army “has deployed an advanced long-range rocket launcher to the Himalayas”.

“It is the first time that the PLA has confirmed the deployment of long-range rocket systems to the border with India,” the South China Morning Post quoted a front page report of the official PLA Daily as saying, adding that “an artillery brigade stationed 5,200 metres above sea level in Xinjiang military district has intensified its drills using a rocket system during full-wing combat-ready training”.

The Indian envoy’s comments indicated the difference in how New Delhi and Beijing view the way forward to restore normalcy in the relationship. At the same dialogue, Sun Weidong, China’s Ambassador to India, said “what happened over the past few decades has proven once and again that highlighting differences will not help resolve problems”.

“Rather, it will erode the foundation of mutual trust,” he said. “The boundary dispute is a reality and should be given sufficient attention and taken seriously. However, the boundary question is not the whole story of China-India relations and should be put at a proper place in the overall bilateral relations.”

Mr. Misri, however, said both countries “worked out elaborate mechanisms and parallel structures for border control and for the management of issues that cropped up on the ground on a regular basis” and “though they were tested on multiple occasions, these mechanisms and structures helped maintain the all important peace and tranquillity on the borders, thereby helping create the environment in which the India-China relationship grew spectacularly between 1988 and 2019”.

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“It is tempting today to remember this period with a touch of nostalgia, and to argue that we should shelve our differences and things should immediately go back to the way they used to be,” he said. “But we must acknowledge that these enabling structures and the fundamental premise of the closer developmental partnership have been placed under considerable strain by the serious incidents and the resultant violation of peace and tranquillity at the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh in April 2020 and thereafter.”

The two envoys also offered differing takes on multilateralism. Mr. Sun said, “China and India need to practise true multilateralism, abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and uphold the international system with the United Nations at its core and an international order based on international law” and “reject ‘small circles’ of closeness and exclusion targeting other countries”, a phrase some Chinese experts have used to refer to groupings such as the Quad.

Mr. Misri said, “In a post-pandemic world of altered equations, multipolarity is probably more important than ever, both in the Indo-Pacific and beyond” and “in a multipolar world, no country can set the agenda by itself without prior agreement and consultation, and then expect everyone else to come on board”.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 9:03:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/border-situation-cannot-be-swept-under-carpet-says-indian-envoy-to-china/article34367870.ece

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