China’s defence ministry on Friday sought to delink its border intrusions in eastern Ladakh from overall bilateral relations, a day after defence minister Rajnath Singh categorically told his Chinese counterpart that Beijing’s violation of frontier agreements had “eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations”.
In a statement, China’s defence ministry said the situation at the border was “generally stable” and both sides should put the boundary issue in an “appropriate position” and promote its transition to “normalised management”, a reiteration of its earlier stand.
A former lieutenant-general told The Telegraph the reference to “normalised management” and the claim that the situation at the border was “generally stable” means China is treating its intrusions in eastern Ladakh as the “new status quo” on the Line of Actual Control.
“The Chinese statement has reinforced our longstanding fears that Beijing is determined to alter the status quo in eastern Ladakh and is not committed to resolving the three-year-old border standoff,” the former lieutenant- general said.
Indian and Chinese armies have been locked in border standoffs at multiple transgression points in eastern Ladakh since May 2020 where the People’s Liberation Army is said to have altered the unmarked Line of Actual Control and is estimated to have taken over close to 1,000sqkm of India-claimed territory.
Chinese troops are said to have remained within some key India-claimed areas.
The Chinese defence ministry statement on Friday said “the two sides should take a long-term view, place the border issue in an appropriate position in bilateral relations, and promote the transition of the border situation to normalised management”.
“As major neighbouring countries and important developing countries, China and India share far more common interests than differences. The two sides should view bilateral relations and each other’s development from a comprehensive, long-term and strategic perspective, and jointly contribute wisdom and strength to world and regional peace and stability,” the statement added.
The statement said Gen. Li Shangfu, the Chinese defence minister, during bilateral talks with Rajnath on Thursday “pointed out that the situation on the China-India border is generally stable and the two sides have maintained communication through military and diplomatic channels”.