China on Thursday played down the Indian Army Chief’s war remarks and wondered whether his comments represented the view of the Indian government.
Reacting to Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s remarks 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 on Wednesday 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 tranquillity 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 threat 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,” Geng added.