'Differences Should Not Overshadow Relations': China Downplays Border Issue, Says Situation Controllable

China and India should never let their differences shadow the overall bilateral ties and must enhance mutual trust, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong said on Wednesday, in remarks that came amid an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between armies of the two countries in several sensitive areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

Without referring to the military standoff, Sun said both sides should resolve their differences through communication and adhere to the basic premise that they pose no threat to each other.

"We should correctly view our differences and never let them shadow the overall situation of bilateral cooperation. At the same time, we should gradually seek understanding through communication and constantly resolve differences," Sun said at an online interactive session organised by the Confederation of Young Leaders (CYL).

"We should adhere to the basic judgment that China and India are each other's opportunities and pose no threat to each other. We need to see each other's development in a correct way and enhance strategic mutual trust," he said.

Sun's comments came in the midst of aggressive posturing by both Chinese and Indians troops in several areas in eastern Ladakh including Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie.

"China and India should be good neighbors of harmonious coexistence and good partners to move forward hand in hand. The realisation of 'Dragon and Elephant dancing together' is the only right choice for China and India, which serves the fundamental interests of our two countries and two peoples," Sun said.

As the two major emerging economies, the envoy observed that China and India should strengthen practical cooperation in investment, production capacity and other fields, and expand common interests.

"China hopes to develop itself and India as well. The two countries should help each other to accomplish their respective goals and light up each other," he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, China said the situation at the border with India is "overall stable and controllable" and that both countries have proper mechanisms and communication channels to resolve the issues through a dialogue and consultation.

At a media briefing in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said China's position on border-related issues is clear and consistent.

"We have been following the important consensus reached by the two leaders and strictly observing the agreements between the two countries," he said, apparently referring to the directions of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi after their two informal summits, asking the militaries of the two countries to take more confidence building measures.

According to government sources, India has decided not to back down from a standoff with China and has moved troops to counter Chinese forces stationed in the Ladakh region.

Modi had on Tuesday headed a meeting with National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and the three Service Chiefs to discuss the ongoing border standoff with China in Ladakh.

The military brass is learnt to have apprised Modi about the evolving situation in eastern Ladakh although officials maintained the agenda of the pre-scheduled meeting was to discuss the ambitious military reforms and ways to boost India's combat prowess.

Government sources said India will not stop infrastructure development projects in strategic areas along the nearly 3,500-km Sino-India border notwithstanding China's well-coordinated efforts to stall them by attempting to vitiate the situation in areas like eastern Ladakh.

Sources said China has put forward the condition that India stop building infrastructure even on its own side of the LAC, a condition that will remain unacceptable to New Delhi. India, on the other hand, has asked Beijing to maintain status quo at the border, sources said. But the Chinese have refused to back off from India territory.

(With inputs from PTI)