Sent on obstacles in Indo-Chinese relations: change of goalposts, blame game

In what is seen as a candid assessment of the challenges in Indo-Chinese relations, Indian Ambassador to Beijing Vikram Misri listed “avoid changing goals”, “have a one-sided view of concerns and sensitivities” and “view bilateral relations through the prism of relations with other countries” as “obstacles that could block progress” in the relationship.

Misri, who spoke at the IDSA-Sichuan University virtual dialogue earlier this week, said, “I remain convinced that we can resolve our current difficulties without the result necessarily appearing to be a win or a loss for them. two parts”.

This is the most candid analysis of the problem in bilateral relations by the Indian envoy, a year and a half after the start of the border standoff in Ladakh. The speech was delivered on September 23, but was made public by the Indian Embassy in Beijing on Saturday.

Following the disengagement from the Galwan Valley in July last year, the two sides were able to disengage from the northern and southern shores of Lake Pangong in February 2021, and more recently from Gogra in August 2021.

“The conversation between the two sides continues regarding the remaining locations and we hope that the disengagement in the remaining friction areas will allow us to reach a point where we can resume the threads of bilateral cooperation,” said Misri.

On the challenges facing the relationship, he said, “The first is to avoid changing goals. For a long time, the Indian and Chinese sides have adhered to a well-understood distinction between resolving the border issue and managing border affairs. “

Highlighting the pacts signed since the 1988 agreement between the two countries, Misri said: “… Any attempt to confuse border affairs with the border issue is doing the work of those involved in the search for solutions a disservice. That is why the Indian side has repeatedly said that the current issue is about restoring peace and tranquility in the border areas, and not about resolving the broader border issue, on which our position is not. has not changed, despite what happened last year. . “

The second obstacle, said the Indian ambassador, is to “take a one-sided view of concerns and sensitivities, where one’s own concerns outweigh those pointed out by the other side.”

“Applying blame exclusively to the other side is not a useful approach. And to insist on one’s own concerns and ignore the concerns and sensitivities of the other party without any explanation or remedy goes beyond disrespect. It actually creates even more obstacles to finding solutions, ”he said.

Misri said these issues should not be limited to the “realm of high politics”. Much less complex issues, which have a purely humanitarian context and are unrelated to bilateral diplomatic positions – such as facilitating the movement of stranded students, businessmen and family members from India to China for over a year and a half now, have been waiting for a balanced and sensitive approach, he said.

India, he said, has also tried to keep trade and trade relations insulated from current differences, for example by continuing to issue visas for Chinese businessmen to travel to India.

“However, we are disappointed to see an unscientific approach to several issues currently facing Indian students, businessmen, sailors and exporters, to name a few,” said the Indian envoy.

The third obstacle, said Misri, is to “view bilateral relations through the prism of relations with other countries”. This was said in the context of the Quad leadership summit and the concerns expressed publicly by Beijing about it.

The Ambassador pointed out that India and China are two ancient civilizations and two modern Asian nations which have developed their independent foreign policies and cherish their strategic autonomy.

He said India formulates its domestic and foreign policies on the basis of national interest first and foremost. Many of these forums include China – the SCO, the BRICS and the RIC are just a few examples – and these dialogues have continued even during the difficult phase of the bilateral relationship.

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