Apart from the big sensation that the Brics countries want to expand, there is also a small sensation at the summit in South Africa: the meeting between Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping. The heads of state of the world’s two most populous countries, India and China, met briefly with their interpreters in the heads of state’s lounge to discuss the long-standing border conflict.
The border between India and China, called the Line of Actual Control (LAC), is about 3,800 kilometers long and stretches across the Himalayan Mountains from Ladakh in the west to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. This has led to several conflicts between the two nuclear powers in recent decades. The most recent clash between patrols from the two countries occurred more than three years ago, killing 24 people. Since then there has been radio silence at the top level.
Officials should intensify “efforts to achieve rapid separation.”
The two countries each have more than 100,000 troops stationed on the LAC, which could be given new definition through new border posts, it is feared, especially in Delhi. Immediately before the Brics summit, military commanders from both sides held five days of talks to reach an agreement. Both sides later said that the negotiations were progressing positively, but there was no indication of a troop withdrawal at the site.
So now finally there are direct talks on this issue between Modi and Xi. The heads of state agreed to “instruct relevant officials to intensify rapid disengagement and de-escalation efforts,” Indian Foreign Minister Vinay Kwatra told Reuters. Modi made Xi aware of India’s “concerns regarding the unresolved issues along the LAC,” Kwatra said.
Xi told Modi, according to China’s Xinhua news agency, “that improving relations between China and India is beneficial to the interests of both countries” – and conducive to peace, stability and development. “Both sides should keep in mind the overall interests of their bilateral relations and handle border issues appropriately to jointly guarantee peace and tranquility in the border areas,” Xi said. What is interesting in this context is that both parties have different perceptions regarding who initiates the conversation.
In Delhi, hardliners threw Chinese televisions into the streets
That Hindustan Times reported on Friday, citing inside sources, that the meeting was requested by the Chinese side. Modi emphasized that he views Chinese army reinforcements in eastern Ladakh with great concern, while China wants to normalize relations between the countries. Since the last clash on the LAC occurred in 1975, Beijing has insisted that border issues must be separated from economic issues.
Delhi saw things clearly differently and initiated economic decoupling three years ago, which was perhaps more of an image campaign. In Delhi, hardliners throw their Chinese televisions into the streets, but China remains India’s biggest trading partner, with a foreign trade deficit of nearly $70 billion last year.
The action at the LAC also shows the balance of power between the two giant countries. “One thing is very clear: China has taken land from India,” said Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, who addressed the issue on Friday during a speech in the Ladakh city of Kargil, where he was of course no coincidence. guests to honor wreaths to lay fallen Indian soldiers. It is sad that the Prime Minister claims that not an inch of Ladakh territory has been taken over by China – “that’s a lie”. India will hold elections in 2024 and the election campaign has already begun.
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