Wang Xiaofeng, Beijing & Rups Debroy , Delhi
China has rejected US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate between India and China on their current border standoff.
In a surprise move, Trump on Wednesday offered to “mediate or arbitrate” the raging border dispute between India and China, saying he was “ready, willing and able” to ease the tensions, amid the continuing standoff between the armies of the two Asian giants.
Many in India interpreted the offer as an election gimmick in an attempt to ‘look big and important’ to the US electorate in poll season.
But in China, most saw it as an US ploy to complicate matters between two neighbouring countries who have differences but have restrained their huge armies on a long disputed 3448 km border.
Reacting for the first time to the US president’s offer, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, the two countries did not want the “intervention” from a third party to resolve the current military standoff.
“Between China and India we have existing border-related mechanisms and communication channels”, Zhao told a media briefing here when asked about Trump’s offer.
“We are capable of properly resolving the issues between us through dialogue and consultation. We do not need the intervention of the third party”, he said.
Several areas along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and North Sikkim have witnessed major military build-up by both the Indian and Chinese armies recently, in a clear signal of escalating tension and hardening of respective positions by the two sides even two weeks after they were engaged in two separate face-offs.
India has said the Chinese military was hindering normal patrolling by its troops along the LAC in Ladakh and Sikkim and strongly refuted Beijing’s contention that the escalating tension between the two armies was triggered by trespassing of Indian forces across the Chinese side.
The Ministry of External Affairs said all Indian activities were carried out on its side of the border, asserting that India has always taken a very responsible approach towards border management. At the same time, it said, India was deeply committed to protect its sovereignty and security.
On Friday, sources in the Indian government rejected that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken to Trump after the US president reiterated his mediation offer.
Trump said ‘Modi is in a foul mood on the border’ but sources in the Indian ministry of external affairs say India is upset with US mediation in Afghanistan that left India out .
” We don’t need handholding, we can handle China diplomatically, ” said a senior MEA official.