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NEW DELHI: “Forced decoupling will only lead to ‘lose-lose’ outcomes” warned Sun Weidong, Chinese ambassador, responding to India’s move to take economic steps against China in retaliation to Chinese aggression in Ladakh. Addressing a webinar by the Institute of Chinese Studies, Sun stuck to the party script in his remarks and answers to questions, often not addressing the specific question.
The envoy refused to answer about the Chinese casualties in the Galwan clashes on June 15, saying it would “not be helpful.” In fact, he had only stock answers to many of the questions posed to him.
Questioned about China’s claim to Galwan valley, he said, “On the northern bank of Pangong Lake, China’s traditional customary boundary line is in accordance with the LAC. There is no such case that China has expanded its territorial claim. China hopes that the border troops will strictly abide by the relevant bilateral agreements and protocols, and refrain from illegally crossing the LAC to the Chinese side.”
This is actually not correct. On both Galwan and Pangong Tso, China has gone well beyond its 1960 claims, proving the contention that it has expansionist designs on its mind. In fact, while some disengagement has happened in Galwan, there has been no movement by China in Pangong.
The term “expansionism” used publicly by prime minister narendra Modi in Ladakh on July 3, has irked the Chinese side. On more than one occasion, Sun said it was “wrong” to apply the “expansionist” label to China.
“China firmly upholds its sovereignty & meanwhile will never engage in aggression or expansion. China has firmly safeguarded its national sovereignty, security & development interests. We have never been aggressive & pursued own development at expense of other countries.”
Sun played an official line that clearly had few takers in India. The participants in the webinar were angrier and more disbelieving than ever before, and questions included asking him whether China would give such an open platform to the Indian envoy in Beijing. The webinar was attended by three former Indian ambassadors to China — Vijay Nambiar, Nirupama Rao and former foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale.
In his opening remarks, Ashok Kantha, former Indian ambassador to China said, “Over the past three decades, India and China have followed the policy of compartmentalising the boundary question and other outstanding issues and agreeing not to let them come in the way of development of their relations. It is clear that this policy has now run its course.
Differences have turned into contentious discord and are adversely impacting the relationship. … An urgent requirement is the restoration of the status quo ante in the border areas prior to recent, unfortunate developments. It is also imperative that we clarify and confirm the Line of Actual Control … “ Sun, in his remarks, said, “China is committed to peaceful development, and is not a “strategic threat” to India. .. China firmly upholds its sovereignty & meanwhile will never engage in aggression or expansion.
China has firmly safeguarded its national sovereignty, security & development interests. We have never been aggressive & pursued own development at expense of other countries.
He continued, “Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, & Xizang affairs are totally China’s internal affairs & bear on China’s sovereignty & security. While China doesn’t interfere in other country’s internal affairs, it allows no external interference & never trades its core interests either.” Unfortunately, there weren’t many takers for this argument. Watch China committed to peace and development, not a threat to India: Sun Weidong

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