Sun Weidong, centre, seen with his wife Bao Jiqing, right, on a visit to Amritsar, India on Nov. 12, 2019, said the two countries need to commit to peaceful co-existence until the dispute in the Ladakh region can be resolved. (Narinder Nanu/AFP via Getty Images)
China’s ambassador to India said Friday that Indian and Chinese front-line troops are disengaging in accordance with an agreement reached by military commanders following a clash last month that left at least 20 soldiers dead in the Galwan Valley.
Ambassador Sun Weidong said in video remarks released in New Delhi that the two countries should be partners rather than rivals and handle differences properly to bring their ties back on the right track.
“Why should we fight against each other, which will only hurt those close to us and gladden the foes?” he said.
Indian officials say a standoff between the two armies began in early May when large contingents of Chinese soldiers entered deep inside Indian-controlled territory at three places in Ladakh, a disputed region along the Himalayan frontier.
Decades-long border dispute
The situation turned deadly when the rival troops engaged in hand-to-hand fighting in the Galwan Valley, where India is building a strategic road connecting the region to an airstrip close to China.
India says 20 of its soldiers were killed and there were casualties on the Chinese side as well, which Beijing has not disclosed.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he interacts with army soldiers during his visit to the Himalayan region of Ladakh last week. (India’s Press Information Bureau/Reuters)
As part of an understanding reached in a series of meetings between army commanders from the two sides, soldiers have started pulling back at some points in the troubled area.
The Chinese envoy said the boundary question remains sensitive and complicated.
“We need to find a fair and reasonable solution mutually acceptable through equal consultation and peaceful negotiation. Pending an ultimate settlement, we both agree to work together to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas,” he said.
The disputed border covers about 3,500 kilometres of frontier that the two countries call the Line of Actual Control and stretches from Ladakh in the north to the Indian state of Sikkim in the northeast.
India and China fought a border war in 1962 that also spilled into Ladakh.
The two countries have been trying to settle their border dispute since the early 1990s, without success.
U.S. accuses China of bullying
The U.S., engaged in disputes with China on a number of economic and political fronts, has sided with its ally in the dispute.
“The Chinese took incredibly aggressive action. The Indians have done their best to respond to that,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in his weekly briefing with reporters on Wednesday.
“I’d put this in the context of General Secretary Xi Jinping and his behaviour throughout the region, and indeed, throughout the world.
“From the mountain ranges of the Himalayas to the waters of Vietnam’s Exclusive Zone, to the Senkaku Islands, and beyond, Beijing has a pattern of instigating territorial disputes. The world shouldn’t allow this bullying to take place, nor should it permit it to continue,” said Pompeo.