New Delhi: Ties between India and China will not be able to take the strain of another military face-off like the 73-day Doklam standoff last year, China’s ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, said on Monday. He also called for “special care and attention" while dealing with relations between the giant Asian neighbours.
Addressing a seminar on India-China relations after the informal summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan on 27-28 April, Luo also called for trilateral cooperation between India, China and Pakistan under the aegis of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)—a China-Russia led security bloc that India and Pakistan joined as full members last year.
“China, Russia and Mongolia, the leaders of these three countries held a trilateral summit .. so why not China, Pakistan and India," Luo said in his speech, alluding to a summit meet among the three countries. The suggestion of a trilateral meet had come from “some Indian friends" Luo said though he did not spell out who they were.
India has uneasy ties with China and Pakistan. India has fought four wars with Pakistan and one with China, and believes that cooperation between China and Pakistan is to its detriment. A case in point is India’s opposition to the China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor (CPEC), a strand of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, which passes through Kashmir, saying it violates Indian sovereignty.
On the India-China border problem, Luo said the two nations “need to build on convergence to find a mutually acceptable solution through the Special Representatives’ Meeting while adopting confidence-building measures to maintain peace and tranquillity along the border."
“We cannot imagine what would have happened to bilateral relations if the Doklam issue had escalated last year. We cannot stand another Doklam incident," he said.
“China asks to make some progress on confidence-building measures to maintain peace on the border."
In response to Luo’s comment on the India-China-Pakistan trilateral summit, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said that India had not “received any such suggestion from the Chinese government".
“We consider the statement as the personal opinion of the ambassador. Matters related to India-Pakistan relations are purely bilateral in nature and have no scope for involvement of any third country," Kumar said.
Ties between the two neighbours were strained after the Doklam stand-off, and Modi’s informal meeting with the Chinese president at Wuhan was seen as an effort to normalise ties.
After a second meeting between Modi and Xi on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Qingdao earlier this month, India and China outlined a roadmap for increased engagement with visits from China’s ministers for defence and public security, besides a meeting between the special representatives on border talks. Indian and Chinese foreign ministers are to head a new framework for cooperation that will see enhanced people-to-people ties.
Taking forward an idea from the Wuhan meet on cooperation in Afghanistan, Luo said India and China would jointly train Afghan civil servants.