NEW DELHI: India on Friday pushed back against the Chinese envoy’s recent remarks about the return of stability to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), saying only disengagement and de-escalation can ensure normalcy on the border.

Chinese ambassador Sun Weidongcontended in a speech on September 27 that the situation on the border is “overall stable” and the two countries have moved from the “emergency response” that followed the clash in Galwan Valley in June 2020 to “normalised management and control”.

Asked about Sun’s comments at a regular news briefing, external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said more will have to be done to restore normalcy at the frontier.

“Some steps are necessary for full normalcy and we have certainly not reached that stage. We want that there should be a sequence – disengagement and then de-escalation and then there should be normalcy on the border so that there can be some regularity or normalcy in the overall relationship,” he said.

Bagchi added: “You are aware of the way we see the developments on the LAC. We have said what steps should be there, such as disengagement and de-escalation. Our external affairs minister has also commented on this, and we said the same thing when the Chinese foreign minister visited [India in March].

“Our senior leaders too have said we have not reached there…I wouldn’t say that the situation is normal.”

Bagchi said there have been “some positive steps but some more steps are left [to be taken]”.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar said last month that India-China relations are going through an “extremely difficult phase” because of Beijing’s actions on the LAC and it will be difficult to have an Asian century if the two countries don’t come together.

Bilateral relations plunged to an all-time low after China amassed tens of thousands of troops in the Ladakh sector of the LAC and sought to alter the status quo two years ago.

A brutal clash in Galwan Valley in June 2022 killed 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops.

India and China have withdrawn frontline troops from the two banks of Pangong Lake, Gogra and Hot Springs after more than two dozen rounds of diplomatic and military talks since the standoff began. However, there has been no forward movement on other friction points such as Demchok and Depsang.

India has also rejected China’s call to put the border standoff in an “appropriate place” while taking forward relations in other spheres such as trade.

By Shadab

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