China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday that the country is ready to improve mutual trust and properly manage differences with India, the Hindustan Times reported. The ministry was reacting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech, in which he said that India’s territorial integrity is supreme.
Referring to the Ladakh clashes on June 15, in which 20 Indian soldiers and an unconfirmed number of their Chinese counterparts were killed, the prime minister said attempts had been made to undermine India’s territorial integrity, but Indian soldiers gave a befitting reply. “From LoC [Line of Control] to LAC [Line of Actual Control], whenever India has been challenged, our soldiers have given a fitting response in a language they understand,” he said in his speech on Saturday.
Since the June clashes, four round of talks have been held between the commanders of the two armies to work out details of disengagement from the stand-off areas.
China also said on Monday that the “right path” for both countries is to respect each other. “We have noted Prime Minister Modi’s speech,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said. “We are close neighbours, we are emerging countries with over one billion people. So the sound development of bilateral ties not only serves the interest of the two peoples but also stability, peace, prosperity of the region and the whole world.”
Chinese state media, on the other hand, said it is important in Beijing’s context to see what Modi does next. Zhao Gancheng, a research fellow at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies told The Global Times that Modi’s speech could be explained from two perspectives.
“One is that Modi has become tougher and put on a combative look,” Zhao said. “The other explanation is that the Indian government thought it had done enough by demonstrating its attitude toward China. Therefore, what Modi said in his Independence Day speech is not very important – but what he will do next is.”