New Delhi: Amidst China’s stress on “progress” when it comes to disengagement at the border, India reiterated on Thursday that completion of this process would require mutually agreed upon reciprocal action and not an attempt to change the status quo.
The MEA spokesperson also underlined that diplomacy was the only answer to the current imbroglio, referring to remarks by external affairs minister S. Jaishankar in a recent interview.
Since early May, Chinese and Indian troops had been facing-off at multiple points of the border in eastern Ladakh, which led to a couple of skirmishes. However, the violent face-off at Galwan valley on June 15, which resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers, brought to the fore the seriousness of the intrusion by Chinese troops.
After the Galwan clash, there had been phone calls between Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi with his Indian counterparts, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and minister Jaishankar.
There have also been multiple rounds of talks between military commanders to draw up the phased plan for disengagement of troops at the border to ease tensions – and to supervise the implementation of this plan. In addition, there have been three meetings of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) to provide the diplomatic ballast to the disengagement process.
However, one and half month after Galwan valley clash, India and China seem to have differing perceptions on the implementation of the disengagement plan.
In Beijing, Chinese defence ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said that “progress has been made in disengaging the frontline troops with active efforts of both sides.”
“The two sides agreed to continue to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, and handle the remaining issues properly to safeguard peace and tranquility in the border area,” said Wu at the monthly media briefing.
A few hours later in New Delhi, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava reiterated the previous statement that complete disengagement requires re-deployment of troops by each side towards their regular posts on their respective sides of the Line of Actual Control.
Indicating that the pace of the disengagement process was not satisfactory, spokesperson Srivastava said, “It is natural that this can be done only through mutually agreed reciprocal actions. Thus it is important to bear in mind that achieving this requires agreed actions by both sides”.
He also sought to remind that at the last meeting of the WMCC, both sides had agreed to “resolve the outstanding issues in an expeditious manner and in accordance with the existing agreements and protocols”.
Srivastava also noted that both sides “also agree that full restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas would be essential for the overall development of bilateral relations”.
While India asserts that the resolution of the border crisis was crucial for the future of the relationship, the Chinese view is that “overall” relations have to get higher priority. “It is hoped that India and China will move in the same direction, always put the overall situation of bilateral relations first, always put the border issue in the right place in the proper position of bilateral relations, avoid miscalculations, avoid the rise of differences into disputes, and push bilateral relations back to the right track of development through practical actions,” said Wu, as per the Chinese language statement uploaded on the defence ministry website.
Meanwhile, the MEA spokesperson also highlighted a recent interview of Jaishankar to Rediff.com, where “referring to various past border incidents he had noted that what was common was that all borders situations were resolved through diplomacy”.
Earlier on Monday, Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat had said that the “military option” was on the table. “The military option to deal with transgressions by the Chinese Army in Ladakh is on, but it will be exercised only if talks at the military and the diplomatic level fail”.
“EAM had further noted that ‘when it comes to finding a solution, this must be predicated on honouring all agreements and understandings. And not attempting to alter the status quo unilaterally’,” added Srivastava.