Wang’s comments came on the heels of the first major incident since deadly border clashes between the two sides in June that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and caused an undisclosed number of Chinese casualties.
“We will not take the initiative to complicate or escalate the situation,” Wang said during a visit to France on Sunday. “Of course, we must also firmly safeguard our sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.
“The border between China and India has not been demarcated, so there will always be problems of this kind. We are willing to manage various problems through dialogue with the Indian side.”
His remarks coincided with reports of a confrontation between Chinese and Indian troops at the disputed hotspot of Pangong Tso, a high mountain lake, where India and China have opposing views of the location of the effective border – the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Official accounts of the incident differ between the two sides. The Indian army said in a statement that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) carried out “provocative military movements to change the status quo” last Saturday night into Sunday morning.
The statement said Indian forces “pre-empted this PLA activity” along the southern bank of the lake to “thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on the ground”.
China’s Western Theatre command said on Monday that the Indian side had that day “once again illegally crossed the line on the southern bank of Pangong Tso, near Reqin La, a blatant provocation and causing tension”.
The Chinese embassy in New Delhi said in a statement on Tuesday that it had lodged “stern representations” with India. China’s envoy demanded that India control its front-line troops and immediately withdraw those who had “illegally crossed the line”, according to the statement.
Neither side has reported any casualties. Military commanders from both sides held a five-hour meeting on Monday at Chushul, on the Indian side of the border, and new talks are expected to take place on Tuesday, Indian news agency ANI reported, citing military sources.
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said that China and India “must reach some kind of understanding or equilibrium” to accommodate both of the rising powers, in an address to the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum on Monday, according to press reports on the event.
“After months of engagement, diplomatic statements only provide a camouflage for what’s been allowed to happen on the ground militarily,” said Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
“Both sides were in a free-for-all in the most recent conflict. The ground reality is that thousands of troops have been mobilised on both sides of the border, and diplomatic talks at high level make no real impact because of the high level of mobilisation.”
Wang Dehua, an expert on India at the Shanghai Municipal Centre for International Studies, said the fact that the two sides remained open to dialogue was an encouraging sign, considering the history of conflict on the India-China border.
“In the past, border conflicts between China and India have led to a deep decoupling of relations, so we are not at that level,” Wang said.
More from South China Morning Post:
- China-India relations: Beijing rejects New Delhi’s claim of provocation after flare-up at border in Ladakh
- Chinese President Xi Jinping turns focus onto Tibet border security
This article China-India border clash: foreign ministers call for calm ahead of talks first appeared on South China Morning Post