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Wednesday 8 July 2020

‘India-China talks on,’ says MEA without mentioning Trump

In the past, Trump had offered to mediate between India and Pakistan, but yesterday for the first time he made the offer to India and China

Yesterday, US President Donald Trump had offered to mediate to resolve the ongoing tension between India and China on the border. Today, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) responded to the offer, saying negotiations were going on with the Chinese side to resolve it peacefully. While India has a strict policy of no mediation in managing the bilateral relations either with China or Pakistan, Trump keeps making this offer, as though blissfully unaware of the policy of the country the US now calls its partner, ally or friend.

“We are engaged with China to peacefully resolve this issue,” said the MEA official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.

The MEA spokesperson said, “Our troops have taken a very responsible approach towards border management and strictly follow procedures laid out in bilateral agreements and protocols with China to resolve any issue that may arise in border areas.”

The US president had said yesterday that the US had told both the countries that America was ready to mediate to resolve the border dispute through a tweet.

In the past, Trump had offered to mediate between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, but this is the first time that he has made such an offer to India and China. On 22 July last year, Trump had mentioned for the first time his willingness to “help” and “mediate” between India and Pakistan over Kashmir — an offer that was rejected by the MEA, which reiterated New Delhi’s stated position that the issue can only be discussed bilaterally. 

Since then, Trump has repeated the offer on Kashmir, with an “if both sides want” rider, about half-a-dozen times, and has been politely told no each time — once even by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Biarritz in France last August.

In recent times, the forces of India and China in Ladakh and northern Sikkim have increased their presence to a great extent. This gives a clear indication of the escalation of tensions and sternness on both sides, even after two weeks of two separate incidents of conflict between the armies of the two countries.

India-China fresh tension since 5 May

The tension along the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) in east Ladakh has prevailed since 5 May. After the Chinese troops encroached into Indian territory, both the armies are stuck in that area.

Experts say China’s peace statement will have to be seen on the ground, given that China wants to change the border perception. Addressing the Confederation of Young Leaders Meet, Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong had called for the need to deepen relations between India and China.

Sun said that the two countries should never let mutual differences dominate bilateral relations. “We should resolve these differences through dialogue,” he had said. Sun further said that China and India were fighting a common battle against COVID-19 and “we have a responsibility to further deepen our relationship”.

Chinese ambassador repeats Doklam rationale

It is widely believed that, besides the Indian Army’s tenacity near the international border in Sikkim during the 2017 Doklam standoff, a reason for China’s withdrawal from the area was the consideration that India was a large market for Chinese goods, and it was foolish to damage that trade interest. Using a similar rationale, the Chinese ambassador called upon the youth present at the conference yesterday to understand the relationship between India and China.

Sun said, “We are not a threat to each other. Our youth should feel the India-China relations Both countries are opportunities for each other, not threats. The dragon and the elephant can dance together.”

China climbed down from its belligerent position barely a day after President Xi Jinping asked his soldiers and state police to “prepare for war“.

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