China, India Point Fingers at Each Other in New Border Talks
(Bloomberg) -- China and India blamed each other for a lack of progress in finding ways to ease friction along their disputed border, underscoring the lingering ill will following clashes last year.
The Chinese side “made great efforts” to calm tensions during a meeting of military officials on Sunday, Colonel Long Shaohua, spokesperson for the Western theater of the People’s Liberation Army, said in a statement.
“But India still stuck to unreasonable and unrealistic demands, which added difficulties to the negotiation,” according to the Monday statement, which said the talks were held at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point in the Ladakh region.
The Indian military hit back, saying it made suggestions for resolving areas of dispute, “but the Chinese side was not agreeable and also could not provide any forward-looking proposals.” The army said in a statement, later reposted by the Indian foreign ministry, that it would be the “expectation that the Chinese side will take into account the overall perspective of bilateral relations and work towards the early resolution of remaining issues.”
China’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the Indian side’s statement as having no “factual basis,” in a regular press briefing in Beijing on Monday, and urged India to “abide by the relevant agreements and consensus raised between the two countries and two militaries.”
India and China clashed several times in the Ladakh region last year in some of the worst fighting since a 1962 war. Those confrontations came as President Xi Jinping pursued a more assertive foreign policy that has also seen China ramp up military pressure on Taiwan. The standoff peaked in June 2020 when fighting at a section along the unmarked border high in the Himalayas left 20 Indian and at least four Chinese soldiers dead.
Tensions flared again on Aug. 31 after India moved troops and tanks to a hilltop on its side of the border at Pangong Tso lake, taking possible Chinese ingress routes in the mountain tops that put both sides at rifle range of one another. The next month, the two sides renewed pledges to de-escalate tensions after their defense and foreign ministers met for the first time since the standoff began.
That was soon followed by an agreement to stop sending troops to the front line. The summer fighting saw India lose control over about 300 square kilometers (115 square miles) of land.
Earlier this year India moved about 50,000 extra troops to the border area, a historic shift toward an offensive military posture against the world’s second-biggest economy.
India’s strategic focus had primarily been Pakistan since the British left the subcontinent, with the long-time rivals fighting three wars over the Kashmir region. Yet since last year’s fighting with China started, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has sought to ease tensions with Islamabad and concentrate primarily on countering Beijing.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
With assistance from Bloomberg