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Wang told Jaishankar India must immediately stop provocations such as firing: Chinese envoy

The comments by Sun Weidong came days after the foreign ministers of India and China, S. Jaishankar and Wang Yi respectively, met in Moscow


NEW DELHI: The border dispute between India and China simmered on Monday with China’s envoy to India Sun Weidong reiterating Beijing’s claims that New Delhi had illegally crossed the undelineated Line of Actual Control (LAC) border between the two countries in a bid to change the existing status quo.

The comments – in the form of a Q and A sent by the Chinese embassy in New Delhi – came days after the foreign ministers of the two countries – S Jaishankar of India and Wang Yi of China – met in Moscow and seemed to have worked out a temporary truce. It comes ahead of another meeting of senior military commanders expected this week to work out a disengagement plan.

Tensions have mounted since May when India discovered Chinese People’s Liberation Army intrusions at multiple locations in Ladakh in violation of pacts signed since 1993. A violent clash between troops – the first in 45 years -- killed 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese personnel on 15 June in Galwan. Another flareup happened earlier this month when India said Chinese troops fired shots after Indian troops took vantage positions on five strategic mountains within the Indian side of the LAC on 29-30 August.

In his comments, Sun said that Jaishankar and Wang had agreed that two countries must “ease tensions, maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas, continue diplomatic communication and expedite work to conclude new confidence building measures."

“It (the meeting) is an important step towards the right direction, and will provide political impetus to ease the border situation and promote the bilateral relations," he said.

Indian public opinion in general was positive about the Jaishankar Wang meeting during which, the two countries “demonstrated political will to resolve the border situation," Sun said.

During the meeting, Wang had told Jaishankar that as neighbours India and China were bound to have differences. “What is important is to put these differences in a proper context vis-a-vis bilateral relations," Sun said adding that India and China should see the other as a cooperation partner and a developmental opportunity, not as a strategic threat. This follows India banning 118 Chinese mobile phone apps and barring Chinese investments in roads, telecom and other areas. Beijing’s position is that New Delhi should meet it half way – seen as a demand that India accept the new Chinese claim lines but not impose any punitive measures. New Delhi has insisted that Chinese troops move back to positions they held in April. Newsreports on Saturday said Jaishankar had made it clear to Wang that India would not de-escalate unless there was complete and verifiable disengagement by Chinese troops along the LAC.

Sun said that “what China and India need right now is cooperation, not confrontation; we need mutual trust, not suspicion. Whenever the situation gets difficult, it is all the more important to ensure the stability of the overall relationship and preserve mutual trust."

“As long as the two sides keep moving the relationship in the right direction building on the previous achievements, there will be no difficulty or challenge that can’t be overcome," he said.

In response to a third question on China’s call for quick disengagement and withdrawal of “trespassing" Indian troops, Sun pointed out that it was India which said that it had taken “pre-emptive" action against Chinese military activity on the South Bank of Pangong Tso Lake on 29-30 August. This “obviously revealed that there are illegal trespassing the LAC and status quo change in the border areas," he said. “Some Indian media had quoted government sources to disclose that the Indian army fired shots on two different occasions. For the first time since 1975, the calm in the border areas was broken by gunfire," Sun said.

Wang had conveyed to Jaishankar that India must “immediately stop provocations such as firing," Sun said. “It is also important to move back all personnel and equipment that have trespassed. The frontier troops must quickly disengage so that the situation may deescalate," he added.