Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Xi, Modi unlikely to meet at G20 due to border row


By Gaurav Sharma (15:44)

Beijing, July 6 (IANS) Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are unlikely to meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit, with Beijing saying on Thursday that “the atmosphere is not right” due to their border stand-off.

The two leaders were expected to meet at the Hamburg summit in a bid to resolve the simmering border dispute in the mountainous Sikkim sector.

“The atmosphere is not right for a bilateral meeting between President Xi and Prime Minister Modi,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry official said.

The Foreign Ministry made it more evident by saying that the “trespass” by Indian troops into Chinese territory “had damaged the political foundations of bilateral relations between China and India.

“As for the arrangement of the bilateral meeting (at G20) between President Xi and Prime Minister Modi, I have to point out that recently Indian troops trespassed into China and obstructed normal activities of Chinese troops in Doklam region,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang.

“This endangers China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and damaged the political foundations of bilateral relations between China and India.

“Regarding the bilateral meeting of President Xi and PM Modi, we will release it in a timely manner,” Geng added.

“We hope India can immediately withdraw the border troops to the Indian side of the boundary and uphold peace and tranquillity of the China-India border areas.

“I think this is the pre-condition for any meaningful peace talks between the two sides.”

At the same time, Geng warned that India would have face “serious consequences” if it did not withdraw troops from Doklam.

The official said Doklam was well within the Chinese territory but India’s action had changed the status quo. “Only when India pulls back troops, the status quo will be restored.

“Under the pretext of protecting Bhutan, India has illegally entered China’s territory hindering negotiation process between China and Bhutan,” the official added.

Thursday’s development came a day after calls by the state-run Chinese media for a war with India.

In its sharpest comment since the Indian and Chinese troops scuffled in Doklam, the Global Times said on Wednesday that China must teach India “a bitter lesson”.

The newspaper said in an editorial that China would inflict greater losses on India than it did in the 1962 war if New Delhi incited a military conflict.

It also said that the Indians would be “kicked out” of Doklam by the Chinese military.

Beijing has also hinted that the development could derail the boundary talks between India and China.

China also said that India had “trampled upon” the Panchsheel pact by illegally entering into Chinese territory.

Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a stand-off in Doklam on the Sikkim sector since the middle of June.

India has said Beijing’s action to “unilaterally determine tri-junction points” violated a 2012 India-China pact which says the boundary would be decided by consulting all the concerned parties.

The two countries, which fought a brief but bitter war in 1972, share a little over 200 km of border in the Sikkim sector.

(Gaurav Sharma is the Beijing-based correspondent of IANS. He can be contacted at [email protected] and [email protected])

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