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India Will Have To Make Reappraisal Of Foreign And Defence Policy Towards China: Gautam Bambawale
I think India will have to make a reappraisal of its policy to China and then we will have to implement a recalibrated policy, both foreign policy and defence policy, towards China
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Former Indian Ambassador to China Gautam Bambawale on Wednesday said that in the wake of the violent clash between the Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan valley in Ladakh, India will have to make a reappraisal of its foreign and defence policy towards China.
"This is a very serious situation as for the first time in almost 35-40 years there have been deaths on both sides. I think this is a very serious situation. I think India will have to make a reappraisal of its policy to China and then we will have to implement a recalibrated policy, both foreign policy and defence policy, towards China," Bambawale told ANI.
"We must understand what has happened. From early May this year, what the Chinese PLA has been trying to do is it has been trying to occupy the ground position on the basis of what is their idea or perception of the LAC. We don't agree with their idea or the perception of the LAC and therefore Indian troops in early May of this year stopped the Chinese troops from advancing.
There has been a standoff for so many weeks. And when there are troops from the two armies are in such close proximity to each other there is always the probability of it spiralling out of control. And unfortunately, that is what has happened on the night of June 15-16," he added.
Bambawale further said that the clashes happened when talks were on between the two sides.
"The fact that soldiers have died on both sides. I want to mention this that the PLA has for the first time in almost four decades suffered deaths of its soldiers in a clash with other country. This is a new thing for the PLA also. It is a very serious situation and I think that the fact that de-escalation talks are happening we hope that wise counsel will prevail, that sage leadership will prevail and the situation will be de-escalated soon. So that India and China can then try and resolve the basic problems of the boundary between them," he said.
On China Foreign Ministry's claim, Bambawale said: "The Chinese side knows very well that there is no agreed boundary or no agreed LAC between our two countries. This is the reason why there have been so many agreements starting in 1993, 1996, 2005, 2013. Because we know that this is the situation on the ground to keep the troops of the two sides away from each other we have had so many agreements. This time around the Chinese side has disregarded these agreements, they have violated these agreements, they have violated many tenets of these agreements and they have violated many SOPs which were laid down in these agreements. And that is why we are in a situation that we are in today."
"We know this is a disputed frontier we know there is no agreed boundary or LAC here that is why we had all these agreements in place. Unfortunately, it is the Chinese side which has violated all these agreements," he added.
Speaking further the former Ambassador to China said: "It is time for saner heads. Cool, calm, rational thinking, and very good leadership from both countries. It is time to deescalate this situation and then talk about the underlying problems there are between India and China on the boundary. I hope that the wiser counsel prevails on both sides."
"Indian army has performed exceedingly well. We know there are casualties and deaths on the Chinese side also. There are casualties and deaths on our side also and that is very sad for both countries. I hope that saner, wiser, calm, restrained people will make good decisions from here onwards," he added.
Throwing light on foreign concerns on the clashes between India and China, Bambawale said, "I strongly feel that the boundary issue is a problem that only India and China can resolve. While it is ok for other countries and their leaders to express their views I think it is more important for the Indian leadership and the Chinese leadership to discuss these issues and try to calm things down."
"On the India China border areas, India also is sitting on some places where it can dominate and China is sitting on places where it can dominate. In this particular instance, which is a very serious turn of events I think the Indian Army has given a good account of itself. For the first time in 40 years, there are casualties taken by the PLA, deaths of its soldiers in clashes with a foreign country. Let us see how the PLA reacts to it," he added.
On the deaths of Chinese soldiers, Bambawale said: "The numbers are not clear. China has itself not clarified how many soldiers have been killed on their side. We have been quick and said that 20 Indian soldiers have been killed. But there is little doubt that there are deaths on the Chinese side as well in the PLA. It is a sad thing for both sides and I think we can deescalate the situation and get on with the solving of the problem of the boundary between the two countries."
Speaking on the role of the Chinese leadership, the former Ambassador to China said, "There is no doubt that the Chinese military is more aggressive all around. In the South China Sea, in the Taiwan Straits on the India-China border, it is much more aggressive. They tried to change the ground position and coincide with the ground position to what is their idea of the LAC. Our troops stopped them. China needs to think about this."
"We are in touch with them both diplomatically as well as there are talks on the ground through the Military leaders. All these should continue and hope the situation deescalates. There is a lot of scope for diplomacy to play a role. I hope that talks between the two countries continue. Not only on the military matters but other issues like economic cooperation," he added.
Speaking on the Nepal dispute, Bambawale said, "I think what Nepal is doing is something that is not correct. It is putting itself into a corner by passing new maps and new laws about territory which we can have a discussion about. I think with Nepal too it is time to sit down and discuss. But unfortunately what the Nepali have done is to push themselves into a corner by these new maps and these new rules and regulations that they are passing."
At least 20 Indian Army personnel, including a Colonel, were killed in a violent clash with the Chinese security forces on June 15. (ANI)
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.