“The atmosphere is not right” for a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping, Beijing’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.
The statement came amid reports that the leaders could meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg to resolve the standoff in the Sikkim section — the longest since the war in 1962.
Quick to react, the Ministry of External Affairs clarified that no such bilateral meeting was planned in the first place. “So far, there is nothing on a bilateral meeting, but everything is fluid,” said top Indian officials. However, a media report claimed that a BRICS meeting — of which both India and China are members — has been planned on the sidelines of the G20 sessions.
Modi, who has been on a whirlwind world tour, is also scheduled to meet leaders of Argentina, Canada, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, UK and Vietnam in Hamburg.
“India can immediately withdraw border troops to its side of the boundary to uphold peace and tranquillity of the China-and-India border areas,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. “I think this is the precondition for any meaningful peace talks between the two sides,” he said to a question on the two leaders meeting on sidelines of the G20.
Over the last week, public statements from Beijing have been getting increasingly harsh and shrill. On Thursday, People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party of China, urged Beijing to support Sikkim’s “independence”.
“Beijing should reconsider its stance over the Sikkim issue. Although China recognised India’s annexation of Sikkim in 2003, it can readjust its stance on the matter,” said an editorial in the paper.
“As long as there are voices in Chinese society supporting Sikkim’s independence, the voices will spread and fuel pro-independence appeals in Sikkim.”
Ironically, at a juncture when the world is increasingly concerned by China’s posturing in the region — from the South China Sea to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and support to North Korea — the editorial says New Delhi’s “regional hegemony is swelling to a tipping point,” and warns that it will “pay for its provocations.”
Amid these developments, Chinese troops carried out exercises simulating battle scenarios at high-altitude areas in Tibet, testing new equipment including a light battle tank, reported news agency PTI.
As if in coordination, Pakistan successfully test-fired its short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile ‘Nasr’, which its Army chief said has put “cold water” on Indian military’s “Cold Start” doctrine.
“Nasr has put cold water on (the) Cold Start,” Gen Bajwa said after the training launch of the short-range missile. Cold Start is a military doctrine developed by the Indian Armed Forces for use in a likely war with Pakistan.