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May 30, 2020

Ladakh standoff: China rejects Trump’s mediation offer

Top Story

May 30, 2020

ISLAMABAD: China has rejected US President Donald Trump's offer to 'mediate' between Beijing and New Delhi to end their border standoff.

Beijing said that the two countries are capable of properly resolving their differences through dialogue and did not require the help of a 'third party'.

Trump on Wednesday offered to 'mediate or arbitrate' the raging border dispute between China and India, saying he was 'ready, willing and able' to ease the tensions, amid the continuing standoff between the armies of the two.

Reacting for the first time to the US, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said, the two countries did not want the "intervention" from a third party to resolve the current military standoff. "Between China and India we have existing border-related mechanisms and communication channels," Zhao told a media briefing. "We are capable of properly resolving the issues between us through dialogue and consultation. We do not need the intervention of the third party," he said. Trump reiterated his offer on Thursday while speaking to reporters at the White House. Responding to a question on his tweet, Trump renewed his offer, saying if called for help, 'I would do that (mediate). If they thought it would help' about ‘mediate or arbitrate, I would do that’, he said. India on Wednesday said it was engaged with China to peacefully resolve the border row, in a carefully crafted reaction to Trump’s offer to arbitrate between the two to settle their decades-old dispute. “We are engaged with the Chinese side to peacefully resolve it,” Indian External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson said. President Trump has previously offered to mediate between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir issue. At the Chinese Foreign Ministry briefing on Friday, the spokesman said, “China’s position on the China-India boundary question is consistent and clear.” “We have been implementing the important consensus reached by leaders of both the countries, observing the bilateral agreements and have been committed to safeguarding territorial sovereignty and security, stability and peace in the border area,” Zhao said. He reiterated his earlier comment that ‘Now the overall situation in the China-India border area is stable and controllable’, he said. On Thursday, an op-ed in a state-run newspaper Global Times also reflected Beijing’s stand on the offer of mediation by President Trump. Several areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh and North Sikkim have witnessed major military build-up by both the Chinese and Indian armies recently, in a clear signal of escalating tension and hardening of respective positions by the two sides even two weeks after they were engaged in two separate face-offs. India has said the Chinese military was hindering normal patrolling by its troops along the LAC in Ladakh and Sikkim and strongly refuted Beijing’s contention that the escalating tension between the two armies was triggered by trespassing of Indian forces across the Chinese side. The China-India border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LAC. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet which India has occupied. Both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas.

Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not spoken with US President Donald Trump about the South Asian nation’s military standoff with China, a government source said, after Trump suggested Modi was upset about border tension.

The neighbours’ troops have been facing off along the disputed border in the western Himalayas since early May, after Chinese troops intruded into Indian territory, according to Indian military officials.

“They have a big conflict going with India and China. Two countries with 1.4 billion people. Two countries with very powerful militaries,” Trump told reporters, according to a White House transcript.

Earlier Indian leadership had marathon consultations about the situation on borders with China and some important decisions were taken by Modi administration. The process of consultation was initiated on Wednesday and it has been decided that efforts would be made for rapprochement with China through various channels. The sources said that the high powered national security conference was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, Minister for External Affairs (MEA) Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Secretary, Finance Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, Secretary Finance, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, RAW Chief Samant Goel, Chairman Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, Army Chief General Manoj Naravane and DG MO Lt. General Paramjit Singh. The sources pointed out that it has been decided in the light of the conference to summon Indian ambassadors from US, Russia, Japan, EU, Germany, France, Taiwan, and High Commissioners of UK and Canada to discuss their role towards achieving an expeditious China-India rapprochement. The MEA will dispatch special envoys/delegations to the UN headquarters New York, US and British capitals, Moscow, EU headquarters in Brussels, Berlin, Paris, and Tokyo. The Indian Ambassador to Bruxelles, Gaitri Kumar has already met with the EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell. The Indian HC to UK Ruchi Ghanashyam is meeting British Foreign secretary Dominic Raab next week. Indian Ambassador to Russia Venkatesh Varma had already met with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last week while Indian envoy to Tokyo Sanjay Verma has made a request to meet with the Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. The Indian Ambassador to Washington Taranjit Sandhu has already met Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The diplomatic observers are of the view that Indian diplomatic could hardly work since the world leaders are engaged in fighting with coronavirus pandemic. They have pointed out that the Trump administration is totally focused on fighting Coronavirus—and they are about to enter the crucial Presidential election phase before opening of the September 2020 UNGA session. A status quo between China and India very much suits the US decision makers. Britain is caught up in Coronavirus with highest deaths after the US. Boris Johnson is mired in post-Brexit quagmire. The EU leadership is keeping UK fully engaged in completing tortuous Brexit formalities. Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe has been focusing on his country’s economic and military ambitions in the region. He wouldn’t like to have quarrel with China at this point in time.

The China-India status quo will also suit Japan. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is seeing Australia $16 billion richer in next 5-7 years due to recent BRI offer from China. Hence, a China-India status quo is something that the Aussies can live with. Ironically Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been issuing arrogant/condescending statements against Pakistan that ‘India would isolate Pakistan’. Now it is Narendra Modi’s maniacal verbiage is isolating India economically, politically and diplomatically contrary to what he had been aspiring about Pakistan, the diplomats pointed out.