AT A time that the border standoff between India and China remains unresolved almost a year later, Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri has said that sweeping the matter under the carpet and characterising it as a “minor issue” is tantamount to running away from the problem.
Mirsri, who was speaking at the opening session of a dialogue between Indian and Chinese think-tanks on April 15, said, “We have also seen a tendency in some quarters to sweep this situation under the carpet and characterise it as just a minor issue and a matter of perspective. This too is inadvisable as it can only take us further away from a sustained solution to present difficulties and deeper into an unfulfilling stalemate. In fact, it would be tantamount to running away from the problem and in a direction opposite to that where the promise of our closer development partnership lies.”
His comments come at a time when Chinese officials in Delhi and Beijing have sought to downplay the border stand-off and insisted on looking at the big picture of India-China ties.
“It is tempting today to remember this period (between 1988 and 2019) with a touch of nostalgia, and to argue that we should shelve our differences and things should immediately go back to the way they used to be. But we must acknowledge that these enabling structures and the fundamental premise of the closer developmental partnership have been placed under considerable strain by the serious incidents and the resultant violation of peace and tranquillity at the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh in April 2020 and thereafter.”
Misri added, “The impact on public opinion has been particularly strong. In this context, it has often been pointed out by friends in China that we should stick to the consensus between our leaders… I agree wholeheartedly. At the same time, I should point out that equally significant consensus has been reached between our leaders in the past as well, for instance the consensus that I just referred to on the importance of maintaining peace and tranquillity, and it is important to stick to that consensus as well.”
On the sustainable solution to these present difficulties in the relationship, he cited External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s statement that it must be “based on mutual sensitivity and respect and pave the way for maximising our mutual interests”.
He noted the importance of the two sides having maintained a sustained diplomatic and military dialogue to resolve issues. “These discussions thus far have helped in achieving substantial disengagement of our forces… Senior leaders on both sides have committed and agreed that we must achieve complete disengagement in all friction areas. That would be an important first step towards considering de-escalation; it would also help in restoring peace and tranquillity and, together, these would provide conditions for gradual and step-by-step progress in the bilateral relationship. This is also what would begin to restore trust and confidence in the relationship and help us rebuild the foundation of the relationship that was damaged through last year’s actions in Eastern Ladakh,” Misri said.