Was Indian Army chief ‘authorised’ to make war remarks, China questions

China on Thursday wondered whether the Indian Army Chief’s war remarks represented the view of the Indian government and if he was “authorised” to make the statements, especially after the leaders of the two countries had a forward-looking meeting after the Doklam border stand-off.

Reacting to Gen. Bipin Rawat’s remarks on Wednesday that India should be prepared for a two-front war, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said: “We don’t know if he was authorised to speak those words or if it was his spontaneous words and whether his remarks represented the position of the Indian government.”

Rawat’s comments made at a seminar came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a forward-looking meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS summit where they agreed to maintain peace and tranquility on the border.

“As far as our northern adversary is concerned, flexing of muscles has started. Salami slicing, taking over territory in a very gradual manner, testing our limits of the threshold is something we have to be wary of and remain prepared for such situations, which could gradually emerge into conflict,” Rawat had said in New Delhi, referring to China.

Geng recalled the one-on-one cordial meet between Modi and Xi to express surprise over Rawat’s remarks. He said a section of Indian media found Rawat’s statement “shocking”.

“Just like two days ago President Xi Jinping pointed out to Prime Minister Modi the two countries are each other’s development opportunities and not threats to each other,” Geng added.

The meeting between the leaders on the sidelines of the BRICS summit was hailed as a positive development after the resolution of an over two-month military stand-off at Doklam, on the Sino-India border.

Geng said that Modi too had shown willingness to work with China to maintain steady development of bilateral ties. “We should not treat each other as rivals.

“So we hope that this military official could see clearly these trends and contribute to the development of India-China relations and say something more in that regard,” he added.

Commenting on the Doklam stand-off, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the border incident had “affected and undermined” India-China ties but added that the consensus reached between Modi and Xi was key to improving bilateral ties.

“For past few months for clear reasons, China-India relations were affected and undermined,” Wang said in an obvious reference to the stand-off between the armies of the two nations at Doklam.

“Going forward, the two sides need to work together to follow up on the consensus reached by the two leaders and make sure bilateral relations will stay on track,” he said, stressing that bilateral ties should not be derailed and there should be no confrontation.

He said harmonious relations and win-win cooperation was “the natural choice right choice” for both countries.

The first top Chinese figure to speak on the issue after the resolution of the over two-month military stand-off between India and China in the Sikkim sector, Wang said: “We need to build strategic mutual trust and the two sides need to work to really look at each other as cooperative partners rather than be driven by an old-fashioned mindset and regard each other as rivals or threats.”

“Both sides need to remain committed to the five principles of peaceful coexistence and work together to properly handle disputes and also work together to maintain tranquility in border areas.”

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