India to blame for border tensions: Chinese defence chief

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping leave after a group picture during BRICS Summit in Benaulim, India, 16 October 2016 (Photo: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BEIJING, Sep 5, 2020, SCMP. Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe has called on his Indian counterpart to defuse tension on their Himalayan border, while also blaming India for conflicts in recent months, state news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday, South China Morning Post reported.

Wei made the comments in more than two hours talks with Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation defence ministers’ meeting in Moscow on Friday.

“The cause and truth of the current tension on the border are very clear, with the responsibility lying entirely with India,” the report quoted Wei as saying.

India has not released a statement about the talks.

The talks marked the first face-to-face meeting between members of the Chinese and Indian political leadership since troop clashes in the border region of Ladakh in the last few months.

In the meeting, Wei told Singh that “candid” dialogue was important in defusing tensions but that China was determined to safeguard its territorial sovereignty.

“China cannot lose one inch of its territory,” Wei said. “The Chinese military is fully determined, capable, and confident of safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Wei said both sides should work together to meet each other halfway, and maintain peace and tranquillity in the border area.

He also called on India not to fuel tension by further provocations and negative publicity.

Both sides should earnestly implement the important consensus reached by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Wei said.

“It is hoped that India will strictly abide by the series of agreements reached between the two sides, refrain from actions that may cause the situation to heat up, and refrain from deliberately hyping and disseminating negative information,” Wei said.

Both sides sent more forces to the frontier after a clash in June, during which 20 Indian soldiers were killed in hand-to-hand fighting.

Reuters reported on Friday that the Indian Army Chief of Staff Manoj Naravane, who was inspecting the Line of Actual Control, or the de facto border, said that he believed negotiations between the two sides could help resolve the situation.

The US understood that neither China nor India were interested in pushing the dispute to the point that they would engage in war, Reuters reported citing a US government source in Washington.

US President Donald Trump said America was ready to help resolve the dispute between India and China, adding that the situation was “very nasty” and the two countries were “going at it much more strongly than a lot of people even understand”.

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