U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday waded into the tense border standoff between India and China, saying he was “ready, willing and able to mediate” between the two sides, where soldiers camped out in a high-altitude region have accused each other of trespassing over the disputed border.
“We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing, and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute,” Trump said in a Twitter post.
The standoff was triggered by India’s construction of roads and airstrips in the region as it competes with China’s spreading Belt and Road initiative, involving infrastructure development and investment in dozens of countries, Indian observers said on Tuesday.
Both were digging defenses and Chinese trucks have been moving equipment into the area, as the officials said, raising concerns about an extended standoff.
There was no immediate response from Indian officials. It also could not be confirmed whether Trump had formally conveyed the offer to the Indian side.
The Indian government made it clear yesterday that it would not allow any change in the status quo on the LAC and that it would respond to China’s actions with “strength and restraint”.
China’s ambassador to India, Sun Weidong, struck a responded by saying the two Asian countries should not let their differences overshadow the broader bilateral relationship.
“We should adhere to the basic judgment that China and India are each other’s opportunities and pose no threat to each other. We need to see each other’s development in a correct way and enhance strategic mutual trust,” he said, speaking in a webinar on China’s experience of fighting COVID-19.
“We should correctly view our differences and never let the differences shadow the overall situation of bilateral cooperation.”
The two countries are engaged in talks to defuse the border crisis, an Indian government source said. “These things take time, but efforts are on at various levels, military commanders as well as diplomats”.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian had dismissed Wells’ remarks as “just nonsense” and reiterated the allegation that Indian troops had trespassed across the LAC. India should work with China and “refrain from unilateral actions” that complicate the situation, he had said.
India has dismissed allegations that its troops trespassed across the LAC and instead accused Chinese troops of hindering activities on the Indian side of the LAC.
The Chinese side has been insisting that India stop construction near the Line of Actual Control, India says all the work is being done on its side of the border and that China must pull back its troops.