In an oblique critique of the US’ recent comments on the Ladakh standoff between Indian and Chinese troops, China has asserted that the border dispute with India is a bilateral issue and underlined that any foreign interference will not help solve it.
“Border issue between India and China is a bilateral issue, both countries have the wisdom to resolve the issue,” Ma Jia, Charge d’Affaires, the Chinese embassy in India, told journalists in Delhi on March 22. “We can handle that, we don’t invite any other, especially from other regions to interfere in this bilateral dispute, and whether foreign interference is helpful to resolve the issue, anytime you see there is interference in bilateral dispute, on the contrary, it will not help the two sides to solve the problems,” Ms Ma Jia said.
The Chinese diplomat responded candidly when asked about India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s remarks that the situation at the India-China border is fragile. “Jaishankar says that the situation now is fragile, that’s what we are talking about, that’s what senior commander and diplomats are talking and discussing about, there are difficulties, we have to face it,” she said.
“The Chinese side has always viewed and handled China-India relations from a strategic and long-term perspective. Although the relationship faces some difficulties, China’s position has never wavered and we have been committed to pushing it back on the track of healthy and steady development.”
She defended infrastructure being built by China along the border saying that as a government it is their responsibility to build infrastructure for civil and military purposes. “Nations must have mutual trust and there are channels to build it,” she said. The Chinese diplomat added that India is also building huge infrastructure on its side in the past few years.
Expressing support for India’s G20 presidency, Ms Ma said that India had played a “crucial role” to highlight important global financial and economic problems in the G20.
Looking ahead, the Chinese diplomat underscored that “China and India are not threats to each other, but an opportunity for each other’s development”, and “be cooperation partners to each other instead of being competitive rivals”. “We could draw strength from our ancient civilizations, and share oriental wisdom with the world, so as to jointly maintain stability of the international and regional order. In a world intertwined with changes and chaos, China and India could speak out loud for more institutional rights of developing countries.”
She also expressed China’s support for India’s presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), saying China is willing to strengthen communication and cooperation, safeguard the common interests of developing countries and international fairness and justice. “We believe that China and India could find a way for neighboring major countries to live in peace and develop together, so as to realize the “Asian Century”.
Two Sessions & China’s economic outlook
The diplomat also briefed journalists on Two Sessions and China’s economic and social development, Chinese path to modernization, Global Civilization Initiative and Chinese Diplomacy. “In 2022, China’s GDP grows 3% to almost $18 trillion, holding steady as the world’s second largest economy. A total of 12 million urban jobs were added, with the year-end surveyed urban unemployment rate falling to 5.5%,” she said.
“The consumer price index (CPI) rose by 2%. China’s total volume of trade in goods exceeded $5.8 trillion, registering an annual growth rate of 8.6%. It has thus been the top global trader for many years running. China is now both a major destination for foreign investment and a leading global outbound investor. The deficit-to-GDP ratio was kept at 2.8%. Fruitful gains were made in scientific and technological innovation. As spending on R&D (Research and Development) increased from 2.1% to over 2.5% of GDP. China’s global ranking of the National Innovation Index has risen from 22nd in 2017 to 11th in 2022. We have made significant strides in building a Beautiful China. Energy consumption per unit of GDP drops and carbon dioxide emissions fall continuously, and forest coverage exceeds 24%.”
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