Partnership under ‘considerable strain’ due to LAC incident, says Indian envoy to China

India’s Ambassador to China Vikram Misri has said “closer developmental partnership” between India and China have been “under considerable strain” due to the “serious incidents” and the “resultant violation of peace and tranquility” at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh in April 2020.

Chinese aggressive action in Galwan led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers, the worst such incident at the LAC since 1970s. Both sides have been engaging in multiple rounds of talks and in February this year disengagement at the Pangong lake was achieved but, disengagement in Gogra, Hot Springs, and resolution at Depsang plains remains.

Highlighting how the development had a “particularly strong” impact on the “public opinion”, Envoy Vikram said, “Tendency in some quarters to sweep this situation under the carpet and characterize it as just a minor issue and a matter of perspective” which is “inadvisable” as takes “us further away from a sustained solution to present difficulties and deeper into an unfulfilling stalemate”.

He explained that it “would be tantamount to running away from the problem and in a direction opposite to that where the promise of our closer development partnership lies.”

While the February breakthrough of disengagement at Pangong has been positive development, other friction point remain, with Beijing slow to move on them. India has been consistently saying that “complete disengagement” can only improve the ties.

The Indian envoy said, “We must achieve complete disengagement in all friction areas…it would also help in restoring peace and tranquility and, together, these would provide conditions for gradual and step-by-step progress in the bilateral relationship”.

Since the Chinese aggressive action last year, India banned many Chinese apps and increased scrutiny on Chinese investment in the country. Increased focus has been on alternative supply chains which have been dominated by China.

The envoy, without directly mentioning Quad grouping said, “We must remember that multilateral structures are presently under some stress” and this has created space for a “number of plurilateral initiatives” which “essentially represent efforts by groups of interested actors” and “it is important to afford space to them rather than prejudge them.”

Beijing has been critical of Quad, a grouping of India, US, Australia, and Japan calling it “Asian Nato” while being silent on similar formats it has been engaging in. China is keen on the “Himalayan Quad” involving Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and itself.

(With inputs from DNA India)

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