The already fragile bilateral ties between regional rivals India and China could not sustain the strain of another incident mirroring the 73-day standoff near the Doklam region that nearly triggered a war last year, the Chinese envoy to New Delhi warned this week.
During his address on Monday, Chinese Ambassador Luo Zhaohui called on China, its ally Pakistan, and their rival India to participate in a trilateral meeting to resolve ongoing hostilities between them, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reports.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs declined the offer.
The Chinese envoy stressed the need for Beijing and New Delhi to find a “mutually acceptable solution” to their boundary dispute.
China and India went to war over a border dispute in 1962 that ended in a ceasefire.
“We need to control, manage, narrow differences through expanding cooperation. The boundary question was left over by history. We need to find a mutually acceptable solution through Special Representatives’ Meeting while adopting confidence-building measures. We cannot stand another Doklam,” Luo declared Monday.
China’s close military and economic relationship with India’s top rival, Pakistan, has also fueled the strained relations between Beijing and New Delhi. In the wake of the 1947 partition, India and Pakistan have fought several wars.
Despite a 2003 ceasefire, continually violated by India and Pakistan, an ongoing border dispute over their claims to Kashmir, part of which China also alleges to own, plagues the relationship between Islamabad and New Delhi.
Without elaborating on whether discussions would explicitly cover the Kashmir issue, Lou proposed a trilateral meeting to examine the dispute.
“Some Indian friends suggested that India, China and Pakistan may have some kind of trilateral summit on the sidelines of the SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit],” Lou noted. “So, if China, Russia, and Mongolia can have a trilateral summit, then why not India, China, and Pakistan.”
Raveesh Kumar, a spokesman for India’s foreign affairs ministry, shot down the proposal, declaring in a statement:
We have seen reports on comments made by the Chinese ambassador in this matter. We have not received any such suggestion from the Chinese government. We consider the statement as the personal opinion of the Ambassador. Matters related to India-Pakistan relations are purely bilateral in nature and have no scope for [an] involvement of any third country.
Last year, Beijing’s decision to deploy troops to accompany workers seeking to extend a road into disputed territory in the Himalayas’ Doklam region that India claims belongs to its ally Bhutan triggered a nearly 70-day stand-off (June 16 thru August 28) between Beijing and New Delhi.
Beijing reportedly maintains a significant number of troops in the region.
Just a few months after the confrontation, in late December 2017, Indian forces foiled a repeated attempt by China to build a road in disputed territory.
That time, Chinese soldiers reportedly crossed into disputed territory near India’s Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims to lie in Southern Tibet.
In late April, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, reportedly to discuss the strain relations between their countries.
The leaders of China and India endorsed the ongoing efforts by representatives from both countries to reach a “mutually acceptable settlement” to the tensions along their border during an informal meeting over the weekend.
Echoing the comments from the Chinese envoy this week, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale reportedly said the two leaders endorsed the ongoing efforts by representatives from both countries to reach a “mutually acceptable settlement” to the tensions along their border during the informal meeting.