New Delhi: A day after US president Donald Trump offered for the first time to mediate the border issue between India and China, India did not directly rebuff his proposal, but merely stated that the two Asian countries are diplomatically engaged.
Taking everyone by surprise, the US president tweeted on Wednesday that US was “ready, willing and able to negotiate to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute”.
We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
China has still not responded to Trump, but India has offered a single-line statement. “We are engaged with the Chinese side to peacefully resolve this issue,” said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava at the weekly media briefing on Thursday.
The brief blandly indicates that there is bilateral engagement – it does not even “note” the statement of the president.
There was no response to queries about when the United States had approached India with the order and whether New Delhi had given a formal response through diplomatic channels.
This was in contrast to India’s more expansive rejection after Trump had claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate on the Kashmir issue with Pakistan, in July 2019.
Meanwhile, as Indian and Chinese armies remained on guard near each other in eastern Ladakh, Srivastava said that India remained “committed to the objective of maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas with China and our armed forces scrupulously follow the consensus reached by our leaders and the guidance provided.”
At the same time, he added, India is “firm in our resolve to ensuring India’s sovereignty and national security”.
Srivastava noted that Indian troops were taking a “very responsible approach towards border management” by following the procedures laid out various bilateral agreements and protocols.
“The two sides have established mechanisms both at military and diplomatic levels to resolve situations which may arise in border areas peacefully through dialogue and continue to remain engaged through these channels,” he said.
In the last 27 years, India and China have ratified five agreements which govern the conduct of militaries and resolution any dispute which arises due to the unsettled nature of the long, mountainous boundary.
India’s statement on the border issue largely mirrored the words of the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Wednesday. Zhao had also said that China was following the relevant agreements and guidance of political leadership and that both countries were capable of resolving the matter through diplomacy. He had also stated that China remains “committed to safeguarding China’s territorial sovereignty and security as well as peace and stability in the China-India border areas”.
The Chinese spokesperson had also stated that the situation in border areas was “stable and controllable”. When asked if New Delhi shared this assessment of the latest border issue, Srivastava did not respond.
Incidentally, Chinese premier Li Keqiang held a press briefing in Beijing on Thursday, but there was no question on the India-China border stand-off or the US President’s offer. There was a similar absence of this topic when the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi had met with the international media earlier this week.
In another development, China is apparently set to ban import of pigs, wild boar and related products from India to prevent the spread of African swine flu, PTI reported on Thursday night.
According to The Hindu, the state-run Chinese newspaper Global Times is linking this move the current tensions with India on the border, by stating that the “the ban comes after tensions between the two countries flared up in Galwan Valley region”.