China’s military said on Thursday it had lodged “solemn representations” with India and expressed its “firm opposition” to Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat’s comments earlier this month on China being the biggest security threat to India and mutual suspicion rising between the two sides.
People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Senior Colonel Wu Qian, who is spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence, described Gen. Rawat’s comments as “irresponsible and dangerous”, speaking at the Ministry’s monthly press conference in Beijing.
Violation of strategic guidance
“Indian officials speculate on the so-called ‘Chinese military threat’ for no reason, which is a serious violation of the strategic guidance of the leaders of the two countries that China and India do not constitute a threat to each other,” he said, adding that the remarks “incite geopolitical confrontation” and were “irresponsible and dangerous”. He did not say where and how China had “made solemn representations” over the remarks.
While the Chinese military’s spokesperson termed the comments a “violation” and “inciting confrontation”, Indian officials have said on many occasions over the past few months that the Chinese military’s actions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) starting last summer — mobilisation of two divisions, deployment of troops in forward areas and multiple transgressions to unilaterally redraw the LAC — had not only violated bilateral understandings but also brought ties to their lowest point in years.
Last week, diplomats from the two sides agreed to restart talks between military commanders “at an early date”, with the 13th round of talks in October ending with an acrimonious exchange with each side blaming the other for the stalemate. At last week’s meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs, both agreed to also “ensure a stable ground situation and avoid any untoward incident” until the situation is resolved.
De-escalation, a far-off possibility
Gen. Rawat had said, at an event earlier this month, that while disengagement had taken place in some areas and was in progress in others, de-escalation remained a far-off possibility given a lack of trust and mutual suspicion, not to mention the Chinese side’s construction of infrastructure in forward areas.
Indian officials have said China has so far not offered “a credible explanation” of its deployments last year that sparked the crisis.
The PLA spokesperson said China’s position on the border issue was “clear and unambiguous”. “The Chinese frontier defence forces are determined to safeguard national sovereignty and security, and are also committed to maintaining peace and tranquillity in the border areas, and are making great efforts to promote the de-escalation of the situation,” he said.
“There is an old Chinese saying: if you use bronze as a mirror, you can correct your appearance. If you use history as a mirror, you can understand the rise and fall of a state. If you use good people as a mirror, you can understand right from wrong. As a neighbouring countries, we hope India and China will meet each other halfway and work together to jointly maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and jointly maintain the healthy development of relations.”