At event to commemorate Indian doctor, China envoy prods New Delhi for talks

India and China should manage and resolve their differences through dialogue and consultation and not allow them to become disputes, Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong has said against the backdrop of the stalemate in disengagement of troops along the Line of Actual Control.

Without directly referring to the military standoff in the Ladakh sector of the LAC that has entered its sixth month, the envoy said it was “normal” for two major neighbours such as India and China to have differences. The common interests of the two sides “far outweigh the frictions and differences”, he added.

Sun made the remarks during his speech at an online symposium organised on Tuesday by the Chinese embassy to mark the 110th birth anniversary of Dwarkanath Kotnis, an Indian doctor revered by the Chinese people for his services during the Sino-Japanese war of 1938. Kotnis died in China in 1942. The text of the envoy’s speech was released by the embassy on Wednesday.

“Recently, the bilateral relations have encountered some difficulties and challenges. As two major neighbouring countries, it is normal to have differences. We need to put differences in an appropriate place in bilateral relations, properly manage and resolve them through dialogue and consultation and not allow differences to become disputes,” Sun said in his speech.

“The common interests of the two countries far outweigh the frictions and differences. I believe that with the joint efforts of both sides, we have the wisdom and ability to overcome difficulties and bring bilateral relations back on track to forge ahead,” he added.

There was no immediate response from Indian officials to the Chinese envoy’s comments.

Despite the seventh round of talks between senior military commanders on Monday, India and China have been unable to push forward the disengagement and de-escalation process in Ladakh, where both sides have arrayed tens of thousands of troops that have dug in for the winter. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in a clash in June, which also resulted in unspecified Chinese casualties.

Troops from both sides have also fired warning shots, the first time guns have been used along the LAC since 1975.

The Chinese envoy said the two countries were now facing the common task of achieving economic and social development and “need to enhance mutual trust and strengthen cooperation more than ever to write a new chapter in China-India friendship”.

All countries are also facing severe challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and as the only two major developing countries with a population of more than one billion each, China and India need to strengthen cooperation and “tide over current difficulties together”, Sun said.

“In the past few months, we have witnessed the exchanges of diagnosis and treatment experience between Chinese and Indian medical institutions, the donation of medical supplies by companies and friendly organisations, and videos recorded by young people and film stars of the two countries to cheer each other on. The spirit of Dr Kotnis has been carried forward by concrete actions and been given a new connotation of the times,” he said.

India has demanded the restoration of the status quo that existed along the LAC in April and accused Chinese troops of hampering Indian patrols and violating the LAC. The Chinese side has responded by saying that building of infrastructure along the LAC and troop deployments by India were the main causes for the tensions.

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