New Delhi, April 5

A day after India insisted on disengagement and de-escalation from all the flash points in Eastern Ladakh as a pre-condition to improvement in bilateral ties, Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong said both sides “must not keep our eyes only on one aspect of it”.

Sun wanted India and China to view bilateral relations from an “overall, long-term and strategic perspective” and did not want them to be bogged down by any specific incident or a short period of time. “This is not the way we should do,” he said in a virtual interaction with Sudheendra Kulkarni, aide of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on Sunday.

India, on the other hand, is clear that the development of bilateral ties depends on maintenance of peace and tranquillity along the LAC. In his conversation with Wang Yi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had said disengagement and de-escalation must be the first steps towards restoring normalcy. “The disturbance of peace and tranquillity, including by violence, will inevitably have a damaging impact on the relationship,” he had told Wang on February 25.

Since then there has been no word from China on India’s proposal for holding a joint meeting of diplomats and army commanders to chart the way forward along the LAC.

The Chinese ambassador admitted there were difficulties on the border but did not point a way to the future. He merely said the recent disengagement of front line troops in Panging Tso area was conducive to building mutual trust and further easing the situation on the ground.

In the virtual interview, the Chinese envoy spoke on the common challenges facing both countries, which he identified as food security, employment and low per capita GDP. These require both countries to focus on development and concentrate on doing its own business well.

While China had huge production capacity and consumption potential, India is rich in human resources and has robust market demand. “We should jointly run in the marathon of development for good results. The key point is to manage differences through dialogue and consultation and find a peaceful solution,” he suggested. Cooperation in various fields should start from easier issues to gradually “accumulate conditions” for further improvement of bilateral relations.

Reiterating Beijing’s formulation, Sun said the political cornerstone of India-China ties should be to commit to the Modi-Xi consensus that the two countries are neither competitive rivals nor threats, but cooperation partners. Also, both need to manage differences through dialogues while respecting each other’s core interests and major concerns.

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