Two steps backward, one step forward: Envoy says China is neither a warlike state, nor an assertive country

New Delhi: A full three weeks after the death of Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Galwan Valley, the Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Weidong, has said that the incident “was a situation neither China nor India would like to see.”

In his video remarks on Friday, the Chinese envoy claimed that “China is neither a warlike State nor an assertive country. The right and wrong of what recently happened at the Galwan Valley is very clear. China will firmly safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and ensure peace and tranquillity in border areas.”

Ambassador Weidong suggested that both countries meet each other half way, expand positive dimension of cooperation, narrow down negative factors and refrain from doing endangering mutual trust and cooperation.

 His remarks mark a clear departure from his previous ferocious stand and accusatory tone on the Galwan incident. The remarks are headlined, ‘Implement consensus to handle differences properly to bring China-India relations back on the right track. ‘

The ambassador said that both countries should opt for partnership over rivalry, treat each other as equals and not interfere in each other’s internal affairs. “Suspicion and friction is a wrong path. Cooperation benefits both while confrontation serves neither.”

He chose to deliver his remarks while the 16th meeting of the working mechanism for consultation and coordination on India- China Border Affairs was taking place.

Dispensing conciliatory notes in his message, the Chinese envoy prescribed that both sides adopt a positive, open and inclusive attitude to ensure stable development of bilateral relations and avoid any strategic miscalculation.

Aiming to undo the damage caused to China’s global image following the Galwan incident and perhaps doing a reality check on expression of solidarity with India by those that matter, the Chinese envoy said, “China has all along advocated that peace is of paramount importance. I believe China and India have the wisdom and capability to properly handle differences and not fall into the trap of conflict. We should seek common development as partners rather than opponents or adversaries.”

 Drawing inspiration from the wisdom of a Chinese proverb, Ambassador Weidong asked, “Why should we fight against each other, which will only hurt those close to us and gladden the foes?”

 It is clear that China is feeling cornered and is finding it difficult to cope with increasing anti-China sentiment in India, burning of President Xi Jinping’s posters and ongoing call for boycott of Chinese goods, in and outside Delhi.

Speaking on conditions of anonymity, a Chinese scholar said that there are about 2000 Chinese companies in India and they have been complaining of a hostile atmosphere. The Chinese Ambassador’s statement has addressed attempts by some people to completely exclude ‘Made in China’.

Citing statistics, the Ambassador said that China has been India’s largest trading partner for many years, with cumulative investment exceeding 8 billion US dollars. “The business community and people of India are the beneficiaries of China-India economic and trade cooperation. Any self-protection, non-tariff barriers and restrictive measures against China are unfair to Chinese enterprises, unfair to Indian employees who lost their jobs as a result, and unfair to Indian consumers who cannot get access to the products and services they deserve.”

Apart from PM Modi bringing curtains down on the era of expansionism, the US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo also pointed recently to Beijing’s pattern of instigating territorial disputes and its bullying. In his remarks to the Press in Washington D.C. on July 8, Pompeo referred to the incredibly aggressive action of the Chinese and said that the Indians have done their best to respond to that.

Not just this, the Japanese Ambassador to India, Satoshi Suzuki, in his tweet a week back, said that Japan was opposed to any unilateral action to change the status quo along the India-China border. The Japanese envoy was briefed on the situation along the LAC by none other than the Foreign Secretary Harsh Wardhan Shringla.

The U.S. also endorsed India’s banning the 59 Chinese Apps a fortnight back.

 The seasoned Chinese Ambassador has said that both countries need to take a broader and far-sighted view to turn around as soon as possible the China-India relations that are facing a complex situation.

The video remarks seen by analysts as somewhat toned down indications of reconciliation aimed at putting the ties back on track at a time when both countries are observing the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

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