Amid media reports of reluctance by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to pull back in the Ladakh sector, India and China are set to hold another round of talks at the military level to “ensure expeditiously complete disengagement and de-escalation and restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas”. This was decided at a meeting at the diplomatic level between the two nations on Friday in which both sides agreed that “complete disengagement” at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and de-escalation “and full restoration of peace and tranquillity was essential for smooth overall development of bilateral relations”.
This was the 17th meeting of the “Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC)” held in Friday in which the Indian delegation was led by Joint Secretary (East Asia) from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) while the Director General of the Boundary & Oceanic Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs led the Chinese delegation. The WMCC has been active in holding meetings in the past few weeks amid the crisis.
Meanwhile, in another development, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong reiterated both India and China “have the wisdom and capability to properly handle differences” and that there was no need for third-party interference. In remarks on Twitter posted past midnight on Friday, the Chinese envoy lashed out at certain remarks made earlier on Thursday by newly-appointed British High Commissioner to India Sir Philip Barton who had accused China of committing a “clear and serious violation” of the UK-China Joint Declaration pertaining to Hong Kong by passing a National Security Law for the region. The Chinese Ambassador accused the British High Commissioner of making remarks with “false allegations and mistakes”. Also, in a media article published, the Chinese envoy said stability in Hong Kong is in India’s interest too, given the close economic and trade ties.
Meanwhile, the MEA in a statement on Friday’s Sino-Indian meeting at the diplomatic level said, “The two sides reviewed the situation in the India-China border areas and the ongoing disengagement process along the Line of Actual Control (LAC )in the Western Sector. They agreed that early and complete disengagement of the troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and de-escalation from India-China border areas in accordance with bilateral agreement and protocols and full restoration of peace and tranquillity was essential for smooth overall development of bilateral relations.”
The MEA added, The two sides agreed that another meeting of the Senior Commanders may be held soon so as to work out further steps to ensure expeditiously complete disengagement and de-escalation and restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas. The two sides also agreed to maintain their ongoing engagements both at the diplomatic and military level, including through the meetings of WMCC.”
The MEA further said, “The two sides noted that this was in accordance with the agreement reached between the two Special Representatives (SRs) during their telephonic conversation on 5 July 2020. They agreed in this regard that it was necessary for both sides to sincerely implement the understandings reached between Senior Commanders in their meetings till date.”
Meanwhile, in his tweets, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong said, “Noted remarks regarding China by British High Commissioner to India, rife with mistakes and false allegations. The boundary question falls within the bilateral scope between China and India. We have the wisdom and capability to properly handle differences. No need for third party interference.”
The Chinese envoy added, “Real challenges in the South China Sea come from powers outside the region stirring up territorial and maritime disputes and undermining regional peace and stability. On Hong Kong affairs, China’s Hong Kong allows no foreign interference. The National Security Law marks a major turning point from unrest to peace and order and a farewell to a history of ‘unguarded’ national security in Hong Kong. China’s internal affairs allow no foreign interference.”