India and China should cooperate, not confront each other, and resolve differences on the border through consultation and dialogue, the Chinese ambassador to India has said.
Commenting that the Sino-India border dispute is a legacy of history, ambassador Sun Weidong said the boundary question should be kept in the right place in the bilateral ties between the two countries.
“It is normal for countries to have differences. Border disputes are a legacy of history and should be placed in the right place in bilateral relations,” Sun said, adding that Beijing believes in resolving border disputes through dialogue and consultation.
“At the same time, our determination to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests is unwavering. China and India should respect each other, treat each other equally, engage in dialogue and consultation, and properly resolve their differences to find a solution acceptable to both sides,” Sun said.
The Chinese envoy was speaking at an online interaction with Indian youth leaders on Tuesday.
Sun added that China and India should cooperate and not confront each other and should concentrate on dealing with the epidemic and reviving the economy.
Sun’s comments to Indian youth come in the backdrop of the ongoing border friction along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
India has repeatedly said in recent months that complete disengagement at all friction points on the LAC and peace and tranquillity in the border areas alone can lead to normalization of ties in other spheres such as trade and investment – especially in the context of Beijing’s repeated statements that the border question should be kept in its right place.
Speaking to external affairs minister S Jaishankar in late February, state councilor and foreign minister, Wang Yi had similarly said that the border dispute between India and China is a reality, should be taken seriously but should also be placed at an appropriate position in bilateral ties.
New Delhi has told Beijing that it cannot be business as usual — and the border dispute cannot be swept under the carpet — until full disengagement is completed at friction points.
During his interaction, Sun responded to a question on the issue of thousands of stranded Indian students, studying in China but who have been unable to return to the neighbouring country because of the pandemic.
The majority of the 23,000 Indian students studying in China have been unable to return because the Chinese government has not yet allowed foreign students to resume physical classes.
Sun gave no assurance about their return to China, indicating that they have to continue online studies in the foreseeable future.
He said that relevant universities are expected to maintain close contact with overseas students, make arrangements for online teaching, and properly handle the legitimate concerns and demands of students.
Indicating that China is unlikely to normalize international travel with India anytime soon, Sun said international travel increases the risk of Covid-19 infection spreading to the countries of destination.
He gave the example of the recent spike in Covid-19 cases in the southern trade hub of Guangzhou.
Like other countries around the world, China is also formulating its own pandemic prevention measures, he said, adding that both Chinese and foreigners are expected to comply with those rules.
Talking about China’s offer to help India fight the ongoing second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sun said China did not stand idly by in assisting its neighbour.
China was one of the first countries to offer support and assistance to India and one of the first to act, he said.
India has not accepted direct aid from Beijing but hasn’t restricted private companies and traders to source medical equipment and material from Chinese companies.
For example, Sun said, the Red Cross Society of China assisted the Indian Red Cross with 100 oxygen machines and 40 ventilators, which arrived in Bengaluru on May 9 on a Sichuan Airlines cargo flight after it resumed India flights after suspending them because of the pandemic.
Sun described Beijing’s anti-pandemic help to India as a sign of it being a “responsible power” and that China has done a fair job and has a clear conscience about it.