A moment that stood out during the Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s bilateral meeting with Chinese counterpart General Li Shangfu held on April 27, where they discussed developments in the India-China border areas as well as bilateral relations, was when the former did not exchange a handshake ahead of the meet.
This is the first visit by the Chinese Defence Minister following the border transgression in Galwan in mid-2020. Video footage of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s bilateral meeting with Tajik, Iranian and Kazakh counterparts showed them exchanging firm handshakes with all of them.
India’s Defence Ministry, in a statement, said Minister Rajnath Singh categorically conveyed that the development of relations between India and China is premised on the “prevalence of peace and tranquillity at the borders”.
The Defence Minister added that all issues at the Line of Actual Control need to be resolved in accordance with “existing bilateral agreements and commitments”. He reiterated that violation of existing agreements has eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations, and disengagement at the border will logically be followed with de-escalation.
The Chinese Defence Minister is in New Delhi to attend today’s SCO Defence Ministers’ Meeting. India is the current Chair of the SCO.
SCO is an intergovernmental organisation established in 2001. The SCO membership includes Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, besides India. Apart from the member States, two observer countries, Belarus and Iran, will also be participating in the SCO Defence Ministers Meeting.
Since then, the diplomatic relations between both neighbours have weakened. Chinese have deployed thousands of its army across its Northern border, and India too have moved its forces to forward areas in Ladakh.
According to Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu, as reported by China Military Online, the situation on the China-India border is generally stable, and the two sides have maintained communication through military and diplomatic channels.
“The two sides should take a long-term view, place the border issue in an appropriate position in bilateral relations, and promote the transition of the border situation to normalised management. It is hoped that the two sides will work together to continuously enhance mutual trust between the two militaries and make proper contributions to the development of bilateral relations,” said Li Shangfu.
(with inputs from ANI)