India, China to resolve border dispute ‘peacefully’

China and India says they have agreed to “peacefully resolve” their border dispute. (Shutterstock image)
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Updated 08 June 2020

India, China to resolve border dispute ‘peacefully’

  • Current Standoff confined to 5 areas of traditional differences for years

NEW DELHI: In a significant attempt to defuse escalating tensions along the border, both New Delhi and Beijing have agreed to “peacefully resolve” the dispute between the world’s two most populous nations, India’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on Sunday.

“Both sides agreed to peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas in accordance with various bilateral agreements,” excerpts from the statement said.

The agreement comes a day after military officials from the two nations held high-level talks near the eastern part of the Himalayan region of Ladakh. This disputed border area was the center of the current escalation between the two neighbors.

The talks on Saturday, at the behest of India, were held at the Border Personnel Meeting Point in Maldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh.

“This year marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and both sides agreed that an early resolution would contribute to the further development of that relationship,” Indian officials said.

The issue began early last month when Indian troops blamed China’s military for hindering usual patrolling at the LAC, along the Ladakh and Sikkim border.

Beijing blamed its southern neighbor for building road infrastructure at the Fingers region around the Pangong Tso Lake and Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.

Map showing the volatile borders of China, India and Pakistan. (Shutterstock image)

The present standoff, which began with border skirmishes, is confined to those five key areas where India and China have had traditional differences on the perception of the LAC in the Ladakh region.

Both sides adopted a firm approach and, according to media reports, China deployed nearly 2,500 extra troops in the region, in addition to enhancing its weaponry and military infrastructure.

On Tuesday, India’s Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh hinted at the build-up of Indian troops in the disputed area, too.

“It is true that people of China are on the border. They claim that it is their territory. We claim that it is ours. There has been a disagreement over it. A sizeable number of Chinese people have come there. India has done what it needed to do,” Singh said in a media interaction on Tuesday.

However, on Sunday, India said that the “two sides would continue military and diplomatic engagements to resolve the situation and to ensure peace and tranquility in the border areas.”

Foreign policy experts, for their part, said that the de-escalation and resolution of disputes were “important to maintain a good bilateral relationship.”

“If we don’t address the contentious issue it will spill over and impact other bilateral and multilateral relationships,” Professor Srikanth Kondapalli of the New Delhi-based Jawaharlal University told Arab News.

He reasoned that the stand-off in Ladakh is related to the “conflicting claims on sovereignty and each country’s distinct strategic vision.” 

“If China occupies the region, it can connect to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia and influence the future setup in Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, adding that “Ladakh holds geostrategic importance for India” also.

“This region is the highest region on earth, and those who control the peak control the valley. That is another strategic reason for the dispute.”

Manoj Kewalramani, a fellow at the Bangalore-based think-tank Takshashila Institution, added that Saturday’s agreement does not mean a “de-escalation or disengagement anytime soon” or the cessation of dispute.

“The nature of the boundary dispute, the ambiguity surrounding claims and the strategic dynamic of the India-China relationship imply that we should continue to expect incidents and volatility,” Kewalramani told Arab News.

He added that what was necessary at this juncture was for both sides “to recognize this.”

“They have been working on mechanisms of engagement to maintain stability. The current situation has tactical and strategic components to it. The tactical component is related to infrastructure development and force posturing. The strategic component is related to geopolitical shifts amid the pandemic, which entail worsening Sino-US ties and Beijing’s desire to shore up its periphery,” he said.

Other experts believe China escalated tensions along the border for other reasons.

“We have to understand the timing of the incident. The border infrastructure has been going on for some time. Judging by the way China reacted this time, it was clear that they wanted to divert the attention away from the mess of the pandemic, their stand on Hong Kong sovereignty and their military posturing in the South China Sea,” Jagannath P. Panda of the Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis, a New Delhi-based think tank, told Arab News.

“The Chinese wanted to send a message to the whole world that they are a competent power and can handle multiple issues at one go,” he added.

At least two killed as car ploughs into pedestrian zone in German town

Updated 48 min 5 sec ago

At least two killed as car ploughs into pedestrian zone in German town

  • The driver was arrested and the vehicle was impounded, Trier police tweeted
  • Two people have died, and 15 others had suffered serious injuries

BERLIN: At least two people including a child were killed and up to 15 injured on Tuesday when a speeding car ploughed into a pedestrian area in the western German city of Trier, authorities said.
Witnesses said people screamed in panic and some were thrown into the air by the car as it crashed through the shopping zone.
Police said several people had been killed, having earlier put the death toll at two, with more than 10 injured. The local newspaper, the Trierischer Volksfreund, put the death toll at four, including a child, but police did not confirm that figure.
"We have arrested one person, one vehicle has been secured," police said, adding that a 51-year-old German suspect from the Trier area was being questioned, police said.
Mayor Wolfram Leibe had rushed to the scene.
"We have a driver who ran amok in the city. We have two dead that we are certain of and up to 15 injured, some of them with the most severe injuries," he told public broadcaster SWR.
"I just walked through the city centre and it was just horrible. There is a trainer lying on the ground, and the girl it belongs to is dead," he told a news conference, with tears stopping him from speaking further.
He told broadcaster N-TV that people who saw the incident were "totally traumatised" and the street "looks a bit like after a war".
Leibe said he did not know the motive for the incident, which shocked residents of Germany's oldest town, founded by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago.
The Trierischer Volksfreund quoted an eyewitness as saying a Range Rover was driving at high speed and people had been thrown through the air. It said the car had Trier plates.
It reported that people screamed in panic when the car drove through the street.
Officers were scouring the area in search of evidence, backed by police dressed in flak jackets and carrying rifles. On the streets, Christmas lights twinkled incongruously.
Germany has tightened security on pedestrian zones across the country since a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market in 2016 that killed 12 people and injured dozens.
In October 2019, a man opened fire on a synagogue in the city of Halle. After failing to get into the building he went on a rampage outside, killing two people.
In February this year a racist gunman killed nine migrants in Hanau near Frankfurt before killing his mother and himself. Only about a week later, a local man ploughed his car into a carnival parade in the town of Volkmarsen, injuring 61.
Germany has tightened measures to fight the coronavirus, with bars and restaurants closed, but shops and schools are still open.
"What happened in Trier is shocking. Our thoughts are with the relatives of the victims, with the numerous injured and with everyone who is currently on duty to care for the victims," Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, said on Twitter.