Border disputes should not affect bilateral ties: Chinese envoy

New Delhi: In remarks indicating that China wants to return to business as usual with India on trade ties despite Chinese troops refusing to pull back in the Ladakh sector, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong has said “it is unreasonable to link the boundary question with normal bilateral cooperation”, adding that both countries “should put the boundary question at an appropriate place in our bilateral relations and not allow differences to disturb the relationship”.

The remarks made during an interview to a business TV channel are yet another indication that Beijing is keen to protect Sino-Indian economic ties to avoid any “decoupling” of the two economies due to military tensions.

Referring to the “unfortunate” deadly Galwan valley clash between Indian and Chinese troops in mid-June, the Chinese envoy said it would be a “miscalculation” for India to treat China as an enemy or as a threat “only by one issue or one incident”, adding that “any action that enlarges and complicates the contradiction will not help solve the problem”.

But significantly, when asked about the stalling of the disengagement process between troops of the two sides in the Ladakh sector due to Chinese troops not moving back, the Chinese Ambassador said “it is the legitimate right of every country to safeguard its own sovereignty and territorial integrity” but that “this is not the same thing as expansionism”, adding that “China should not be labelled as ‘expansionist’.” He, however, said that “negotiations are in process that takes time”.

On economic ties, Ambassador Sun was also at pains to point out that “India’s exports to China increased by nearly 31 per cent, (while the share of (Indian exports to China in its total exports climbed to 9.71 per cent, which almost doubled”, adding that “this once again shows that an open and vigorous China means huge opportunities for India”.

In his interview to a business TV channel, “the Chinese Ambassador said, “It would be a miscalculation to treat a close neighbour for thousands of years as “enemy” or “threat” only by one issue or one incident. … We should put the boundary question at an appropriate place in our bilateral relations and not allow differences to disturb the relationship. Any action that enlarges and complicates the contradiction will not help solve the problem. In fact, dialogue and negotiation is the only right way out.”

He added, “The Galwan incident is an unfortunate one and its merits is very clear. The bilateral channels of communications between China and India are open and smooth after the incident. … The existing situation on the ground is under control on the whole and there is no fresh standoff between the two forces. Of course, negotiations are in process that takes time. We should keep the momentum of dialogue and negotiation, further de-escalate the border situation, properly handle the remaining issues, and jointly maintain the peace and tranquillity along the border areas.”

Ambassador Sun said, “China always stands for peaceful settlement of boundary disputes through dialogue and negotiation. Meanwhile, it is the legitimate right of every country to safeguard its own sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is not the same thing as expansionism. China should not be labelled as ‘expansionist’.”

He added, “We believe it is unreasonable to link boundary question with normal bilateral cooperation. I have noted there are emerging rational voices in India pointing out that such restrictive practices are both unrealistic and harmful to India’s interests, and may eventually lead to a lose-lose situation. China-India economic and trade cooperation is mutually beneficial with win-win results. India’s overall exports declined due to COVID-19. However, India’s exports to China increased by nearly 31 per cent, the share of exports to China in its total exports climbed to 9.71 per cent, which almost doubled. This once again shows that an open and vigorous China means huge opportunities for India.”

Border disputes should not affect bilateral ties: Chinese envoy