India and China have failed to resolve key disputes over the Ladakh border clashes, despite half a dozen rounds of negotiations over the past two months.
China’s ambassador to India said in New Delhi Friday that the situation on the ground is de-escalating and “the temperature is coming down.’’
However, India has pushed back against what it says are China’s attempts to extinguish its claims on the territories occupied by Beijing’s forces since April.
China has highlighted India’s critical dependence on it for components used to make products ranging from computers to motorcycles. India is dissatisfied and disappointed with the talks over several areas of its northernmost tip.
“With the joint efforts of both sides, the border troops have disengaged in most localities,’’ Ambassador Sun Weidong said.
His comments, made just days before the next round of talks between senior commanders, were challenged by India’s Ministry of External Affairs. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been under fire from opposition leaders and strategic affairs experts for its inability to push back the intruders.
“There has been some progress made towards this objective but the disengagement process has as yet not been completed,’’ said Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Anurag Srivastava.
“Senior commanders of the two sides will be meeting in the near future to work out steps in this regard.”
India has been seeking the withdrawal of Chinese troops that encroached on the crucial Galwan Valley area that overlooks India’s military highway, which is critical for supplying materiel to northern border areas. India says China has also occupied strategic areas eight kilometers inside Indian territory near Pangong Lake and Hot Springs, and the Depsang Plains in the north.
“We expect that the Chinese side will sincerely work with us for complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas at the earliest as agreed to by the special representatives,’’ said Srivastava.
“The maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas is the basis of our bilateral relationship.’’
China’s incursions have sparked intense anger in India, prompting it to increase its defense budget, ordering more fighter jets and seeking early deliveries of jets and missiles already ordered.
In addition to becoming an active participant in naval exercises with the United States, India is increasing its naval presence across the Indian Ocean.
Strategic affairs experts are calling for a review of relations with China, especially India’s recognition of Beijing’s One-China policy.
Ambassador Sun said, “There has been an argument in Indian public opinion on the boundary question, which worries me, suggesting the Indian government adjust its policy towards China, and change its stance on issues related to Taiwan, Xizang, Hong Kong and the South China Sea to put pressure on China.
“I want to point out emphatically that Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Xizang affairs are totally China’s internal affairs and bear on China’s sovereignty and security. While China doesn’t interfere in other country’s domestic affairs, it allows no external interference and never trades its core interests either.’’
On the economic and commercial front, India initially banned 59 Chinese apps and later another 47 apps. It increased restrictions on Chinese companies selling goods and services to Indian state-run companies and projects. Chinese companies are also large investors in Indian start-ups.
India’s trade with China rose 32 times to almost $100 billion over the past two decades. China was one of the biggest trading partners and India depended on it for several components and parts critically needed for its own economy and exports, the ambassador said.
“Globalization has deepened the interconnection between countries into the ‘capillaries’,’’ said Sun. “Whether you want it or not, the trend is difficult to reverse. Both China and India have been deeply embedded in the global industrial chain and supply chain.”
In a veiled warning to its South Asian neighbor, the Chinese ambassador said a forced decoupling of the Chinese and Indian economies would go against the global trend and only lead to a “lose-lose” outcome.
“Chinese and Indian economies are interwoven and interdependent,” he said. “According to local statistics in India, in 2018-2019, 92% of Indian computers, 82% of TVs, 80% of optical fibers, 85% of motorcycle components are imported from China.’’