More than two months after the Galwan clashes claimed lives of 20 Indian soldiers, and talks to resolve the stand-off along the LAC in a stalemate at present, China’s ambassador to India, Sun Weidong, has described it as an “unfortunate incident”, and a “brief moment from the perspective of history”.
He also said that they are “working to handle it properly”, while referring to the multiple rounds of diplomatic and military-level talks.
Sun made these comments at the India-China Youth Forum, held on August 18. The transcript of his interaction was published by the Chinese embassy on Tuesday.
In the webinar, Sun said, “As two rising major neighbours, China and India should abandon the old mindset of drawing lines by ideology, and get rid of the old game of ‘one’s gain is another’s loss’ and ‘zero-sum game’. Otherwise, you would be led astray and go down a wrong path.
“Not long ago, an unfortunate incident happened in the border areas that neither China nor India would like to see. Now we are working to handle it properly. It is a brief moment from the perspective of history.”
Sun said that in order to achieve development goals, both countries need a “peaceful and favourable” external environment. “China and India, neighboring countries, should live in peace and avoid conflicts,” he said.
On the economic ties, under stress following the Galwan clashes in mid-June, the Chinese envoy said, “I think the two big economies should attract each other like magnets, rather than [allow it to] forcefully separate them.”
On a question on support to Indians aspiring to learn Chinese language, Sun said a “strong team of Chinese teachers will help cultivate more Indian students who understand Chinese and love Chinese culture”. Sun said, “In future, China’s education sector will continue to provide support in this regard…” he said.
This comes at a time when the Confucius Institutes in India are under the scanner.
In the webinar, Sun said, “We need to respect our respective social systems. I believe that social system of every country is an independent choice made by its respective people, and no other country should interfere. China and India have different social systems and cultural traditions, but we all aim to embark on a development path that suits our own national conditions.
“The world is wonderful because of its differences. We need to understand each other, seek common grounds while reserving differences, and work together to build a community with shared future for mankind.”
He said China’s President Xi Jinping has said that Beijing will neither “import” foreign models of development, nor “export” the Chinese model and ask other countries to “copy” its practice. “We always look at civilisations created by people worldwide with an open and broad mind, and conduct exchanges and cooperation with an attitude of mutual learning,” he said.
He said “mutual respect and support” between China and India is the right path and serves the long-term interests of both nations. “Only by mutual respect and equal treatment can we continuously enhance mutual understanding and trust, avoid suspicion and misunderstanding, and realise the goal of ‘Dragon-Elephant Tango’ between China and India on the road of peaceful coexistence and common development,” Sun said.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and India 70 years ago, Sun said, bilateral relations have withstood tests and become more resilient. “It should not be disturbed by one thing…. In this new century, bilateral relations should continue to move forward instead of backward,” he said.
Sun said at the webinar: “Chinese people often say, ‘Take a long-term perspective and look with a broadened horizon’, which means it is important to take a long-term perspective rather than only looking at the present. We need to see that friendly cooperation between China and India is the mainstream and the general trend. Only by seeing this can we maintain objective and rational judgment and correctly handle the differences between the two sides.
“I am convinced that China and India, two ancient civilisations, have the wisdom and ability to properly handle bilateral relations,” he said.
The Chinese ambassador also said that they will encourage “language learning and communication”. With the help of Indian colleges and universities, Chinese colleges and universities carry out the study of Hindi, Tamil and Bengali. “As far as I know, about 20 Indian universities have opened Chinese departments and Chinese courses. The cooperation in language projects between the two countries has cultivated a large number of envoys of friendship between China and India, and is also an effective platform for enhancing friendship and mutual trust between the two peoples,” he said.
“We should adhere to such an effective approach, and through the joint efforts of both sides, including the education authorities, to make these platforms truly opportunities for the youth of the two countries to enhance friendship, deepen understanding and promote cooperation.”