By Elton Gomes
India dismissed Chinese ambassador Luo Zhaohui’s suggestion for a trilateral meet between China, India, and Pakistan under the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) framework, citing its long-established position on third-party interference between Indo-Pakistani relations.
After India and Pakistan became full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Zhaohui, put forward the suggestion, stating the meet was suggested by “Indian friends”. Taking into consideration the standoff over the Doklam incident, Luo stated that China “cannot stand another Doklam.”
Speaking at a seminar in Delhi, Luo said, “We cannot stand another Doklam, we need to control, manage, narrow differences through expanding cooperation. The boundary question was left over by history. We need to find a mutual acceptable solution through Special Representatives,” as reported by NDTV. To promote dialogue between India and China, Luo emphasized the “5Cs” of communication, cooperation, contacts, coordination, and control.
The Indian foreign affairs ministry, however, considered the suggestion of the meet as “personal opinion of the Ambassador.”
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, “We have seen reports on comments made by the Chinese Ambassador in this matter. We have not received any such suggestion from the Chinese government. We consider the statement as the personal opinion of the ambassador.” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that matters involving India and Pakistan are “purely bilateral” and can “have no scope for involvement of any third country.”
The Chinese government’s statement could be said to be an attempt towards getting India to accept China’s Belt and Road initiative. In the eight-nation SCO meet held on June 10, India refused to endorse China’s Belt and Road initiative for which Beijing had signed agreements with over 80 countries and international organisations.
Therefore, experts stand slightly sceptical of China’s suggestion of a trilateral meet. Former diplomat Rajiv Dogra spoke to News18 about the timing of Luo’s statement and said that it was barely the ideal time to mention such a statement. Additionally, the Chinese envoy’s suggestion of a trilateral meet seems to be a far cry from China’s position of not interfering in bilateral disputes between India and Pakistan.
Luo also suggested that India and China should consider signing a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. He added that a draft of the treaty was provided to India around 10 years ago. “We would also like to negotiate a bilateral trade arrangement with India to expand trade relations. We may encourage economic cooperation on major projects such as new industrial parks and high-speed railway,” Luo said, adding that China is interested in assessing bullet train corridors of Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Agra.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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