A day after Union Minister Rajnath Singh’s strong message to China during the first meeting of defence ministers of the two nations since the Galwan incident, his Chinese counterpart General Li Shangfu today called for “normalized management” of differences on the international border.
“The two sides should take a long-term view, place the border issue in an appropriate position in bilateral relations, and promote the transition of the border situation to normalized management,” a communique released by the Chinese embassy said.
This is a position which has been unacceptable for New Delhi, with India making it clear that a resolution of the border situation was linked to the expansion of ties between the two nations.
China and India share far more common interests than differences, the Chinese statement today said, adding that the two sides should view bilateral relations and each other’s development “from a comprehensive, long-term and strategic perspective, and jointly contribute wisdom and strength to world and regional peace and stability.”
Underscoring the need for peace and tranquillity at the border, New Delhi had yesterday said “violation of existing agreements has eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations”.
The Indian communique after the two minister’s meeting — held on the sidelines of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) meeting — read: “The Raksha Mantri categorically conveyed that development of relations between India and China is premised on prevalence of peace and tranquillity at the borders”.
“He added that all issues at the LAC need to be resolved in accordance with existing bilateral agreements and commitments. He reiterated that violation of existing agreements has eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations and disengagement at the border will logically be followed with de-escalation,” the statement added.
The Chinese statement further said that the situation on the China-India border is “generally stable” and the two sides have maintained communication through military and diplomatic channels, and added that it hopes that the two sides will work together to “continuously enhance mutual trust between the two militaries and make proper contributions to the development of bilateral relations”.
The 18 rounds of talks between the military commanders of India and China have led to disengagement in certain areas of Ladakh including Hot Springs, Galwan, and the north bank of Pangong Lake. But there has been little headway in resolving the situation in strategically important Demchok and Depsang, where the Chinese occupy large swathes of Indian territory.
Repeated Chinese transgressions in Ladakh have led to face-offs with Indian soldiers, the worst of which took place in Galwan, where 20 Indian soldiers died in action in 2020.
Since then, there have been reports of China paring off Indian territory in various spots of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, and building up infrastructure in terms of roads and air bases.