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AFP
July 4, 2020

Modi makes China border visit after clash

Top Story

AFP
July 4, 2020

Ag Agencies

HELD SRINAGAR/BEIJING: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to the disputed northern frontier region with China on Friday in his first trip to the area since a deadly border clash last month.

The incident in the Galwan Valley saw 20 Indian troops killed and was the first time in 45 years that soldiers had died in combat on the Asian giants’ long-disputed Himalayan border. Modi toured a military base at Nimoo in Ladakh, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) as the crow flies from the site of the June 15 battle.

He was due to go to a military hospital in nearby Leh to meet soldiers injured in the hand-to-hand skirmish, a security source told AFP. The head of India’s military and the army chief also joined the visit to the sensitive area, which has been used as a staging post to build up troop numbers in the region.

China has not given details about any casualties. Both sides have blamed each other for the incident and since sent thousands of extra troops to the region. They have held several rounds of military-level talks and said they want a negotiated settlement but have made little apparent progress. India has also attempted to turn the screws on China economically, this week banning 59 Chinese mobile phone apps including the popular TikTok citing national security concerns. With anti-China sentiment on the rise locally, Chinese imports including raw materials vital to India’s pharmaceutical industry have reportedly been piling up at Indian ports due to more stringent border checks.

Reacting to Modi’s visit to Ladakh, a Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson said both sides should not take any actions that could further complicate the situation. “Now, India and China are in communication and negotiation on lowering the temperature through military and diplomatic channels. So, no party should engage in any action that may escalate the tension at this point,” Zhao Lijian said during his regular briefing in response to a question regarding the visit.

Responding to a question about Indian Transport Minister’s statement regarding a ban on the Chinese companies building a road in India, he said that certain politicians in India had been issuing remarks that were detrimental to bilateral relations between the two countries recently.

“Our bilateral relations need to be held with concerted efforts. The Indian side should work with us towards the same goal, to uphold the general picture of our common interests in bilateral relations,” he added.

The spokesperson said artificial blocks to bilateral cooperation would harm India’s interests and that the two countries should work together to uphold peace in their border region. Beijing will take necessary measures to uphold the rights of Chinese businesses in India, he added.

Asked if India’s economic measures are justified, Zhao said China hopes both countries could meet each other half-way and try to resolve the tension through diplomatic and military negotiations and ensure peace and stability in the region.

The Indian side must not misjudge the current situation, and China hopes to work with India to maintain the overall peace and stability, he added.