India on Thursday called out China’s claims that the disengagement of troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was complete in many areas, saying the process was yet to be completed. This comes as the two sides are looking at holding senior military commander level talks to work out details of a pullback of troops from along the border.
“There has been some progress made towards this objective but the disengagement process has as yet not been completed. The senior commanders of the two sides will meet in the near future to work out steps in this regard," Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said during a weekly briefing.
The two countries are still working on dates for a meeting between senior military commanders, which would be the fifth since tensions between the two countries rose following multiple intrusions by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army personnel along the LAC in Ladakh, two people familiar with the matter said.
Earlier this week, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the situation was easing. On Thursday, Chinese ambassador to India Sun Weidong said at a virtual session organized by Delhi based think tank Institute of Chinese Studies: “The border troops have disengaged in most localities and the temperature is coming down." He was referring to tensions exacerbated by a clash between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan area on 15 June that resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops.
“The maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas is the basis of our bilateral relationship. Therefore, we expect that the Chinese side will sincerely work with us for complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas at the earliest," Srivastava.
Earlier, the Chinese ambassador repeated his position put out in a video message this month that India and China should be partners rather than rivals, that both countries needed to pursue “win-win cooperation rather than a zero-sum game".
“Both sides should grasp the fundamental interest of the two countries and their peoples, stick to friendly cooperation and properly handle differences to bring the bilateral relations back to the normal track," Sun said.
China “is committed to peaceful development and is not a threat or strategic threat to India. To safeguard world peace and promote common development has always been the fundamental goal of Chinese diplomacy," he said.
Sun also pointed out that China had “never colonized" other countries. “It has been formally written into China’s constitution and it is our basic national policy," the ambassador said. However, China would take steps to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity, he said, laying the blame for the Galwan Valley clash on India saying that it was Indian troops who transgressed into the Chinese side of the LAC.