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India first noticed multiple intrusions by the People’s Liberation Army in Ladakh in May (PTI)
India first noticed multiple intrusions by the People’s Liberation Army in Ladakh in May (PTI)

India reminds China of its redlines on sovereignty issues

  • New Delhi made public its intent to deliver a submarine to the Myanmar Navy
  • The situation along the India-China border was a marker of the inability of a rising China and a rising India to find an equilibrium

India on Thursday reminded China of its redlines on sovereignty issues including the status of the union territory of Ladakh that Beijing has said it does not recognize as a military standoff along their border continued though Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar held out the hope that talks could yield a solution.

In a related development, New Delhi on Thursday made public its intent to deliver a submarine to the Myanmar Navy, a move seen as aimed at securing ties with its eastern neighbor amid concerted efforts by Beijing to increase its influence around India’s periphery. The announcement comes days after a visit to Myanmar by India’s army chief Manoj Mukund Naravane and Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla. It is seen as in line with India’s policy of close ties with its neighbors, its Act East policy that aims to build deeper ties with Southeast Asian countries as well New Delhi’s broader Indo-Pacific strategy. It comes three years after India’s close neighbor Bangladesh commissioned two submarines procured from China, much to New Delhi’s unease. Myanmar’s acquisition of a submarine also comes amid a spurt in defence hardware purchases by its neighbours in South East Asia including Thailand and Vietnam in recent years according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

At a foreign ministry briefing in New Delhi, when asked about China’s repeated remarks about not recognizing the union territory of Ladakh, spokesman Anurag Srivastava said the centrally administered regions of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir “have been, are, and would remain an integral part of India." In what can be taken as a warning to Beijing, he said: “China has no locus standi to comment on India's internal matters. We hope that countries will not comment on India’s internal matters, as much as they expect the same of others." New Delhi has so far refrained by comments on last year’s protests in Hong Kong or allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang province. So far, New Delhi has also been seen as sensitive to China’s concerns over Taiwan and Tibet though the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama lives in exile in India.

Similarly, on the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, that China claims in its entirety as “Southern Tibet," Srivastava said the region “is an integral and inalienable part of India. This fact has also been clearly conveyed to the Chinese side on several occasions, including at the highest level."

China’s comments disputing the sovereignty of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh come as the military standoff along their border in Ladakh entered its sixth month. India first noticed multiple intrusions by the People’s Liberation Army in Ladakh in May. Tensions have been at an unprecedented high with both sides suffering casualties for the first time in 45 years.

In his remarks, Srivastava said talks earlier this week between military commanders of the two countries “were positive and constructive" and they “have a better understanding of each other’s positions."

“Disengagement is a complex process that requires redeployment of troops by each side towards their regular posts on their respective sides of the LAC (Line of Actual Control) border," he said adding “the two sides will maintain the current momentum of communications."

Speaking at an event organized by the US news agency Bloomberg, Indian foreign minister Jaishankar said when asked about India-China tensions said discussions were going on to break the stalemate. Declining to be drawn into a discussion on the matter, the minister said he would like to “wait and see how this plays out." The situation along the India-China border was a marker of the inability of a rising China and a rising India to find an equilibrium. The India-China bilateral relationship was based on peace and tranquility on the border and if that were disturbed, “that is the primary cause of disruption" in ties, he said. The problem was not created by India, he added.

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