NEW DELHI: As the India-China military stand-off in Ladakh entered its 100th day this week, and with the disengagement process having stalled, India’s envoy to China Vikram Misri met senior People’s Liberation Army officers in Beijing to explain India’s position on the border situation that has sought restoration of status quo as before the confrontation began in early May.
Misri’s meeting came even as an unsigned article in the Chinese embassy bulletin quoted Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi as blaming India for the Galwan Valley clash of June 15, asking New Delhi to conduct an investigation into the incident and “hold violators accountable, strictly discipline frontline troops and immediately stop provocative acts”. This, Indian officials said, was China’s usual tactic of blaming India for actions that PLA troops were responsible for. But while the Chinese foreign office spokesperson has said so often enough, it was more unusual for the hardline quotes to be attributed to Wang, who is also the state councillor.
The Indian ambassador’s meeting with the Chinese military brass was also unusual. “Ambassador Vikram Misri today met Major General Ci Guowei, director of the office of International Military Cooperation of the Central Military Commission, and briefed him on India’s stance vis-a-vis the situation on the borders in eastern Ladakh UT,” the Indian embassy tweeted.
In Beijing, Misri has been meeting think tanks and foreign ministry officials to apprise them of India’s views. Earlier this week, Misri met Liu Jianchao, deputy director of the office of the CPC Central Committee Foreign Affairs Commission, an influential official in the party. The idea behind the meetings is to let the Chinese know how important the border resolution is for India and that a prolonged standoff could completely crater the bilateral relationship.
Asked about the current situation, the MEA spokesperson said “some progress (on disengagement) had earlier been made”, comments that served to highlight the current impasse.
“While we would like the ongoing disengagement process to be completed at the earliest, it is important to bear in mind that achieving this requires agreed actions by both sides. We, therefore, expect the Chinese side to sincerely work with us towards the objective of complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” he said.
Another round of military commanders’ talks will be held next week, which will be followed by another meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China border affairs.
The Chinese bulletin in Wang’s reported comments said, “The adventurism of the Indian Army seriously violated agreements on border issues between the two countries and severely violated basic norms governing international relations.”
The only thing the Indians and Chinese agree on is that the Galwan Valley clashes broke the agreement of June 6 between the military commanders, though both sides have blamed the other. Indian officials say that while Indian troops were surprised, Chinese troops came armed with reinforced sticks with nails and stones wrapped in barbed wire indicated a premeditated design.
The MEA spokesperson stressed the importance of “complete disengagement along the India-China border areas”. This, he said, was “in accordance with the agreement of the Special Representatives of India and China that early and complete disengagement of the troops along the 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 the smooth overall development of bilateral relations”.


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