China on Thursday warned India not to underestimate Beijing’s firm will to safeguard its territorial sovereignty. The comments by foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, indicating that Galwan Valley in Ladakh is part of China, came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that New Delhi will “protect every inch of its territory and its sovereignty”.

“India must not misjudge the current situation or underestimate China’s firm will to safeguard its territorial sovereignty,” Hua tweeted. “Indian front-line troops broke the consensus and crossed the Line of Actual Control, deliberately provoking and attacking Chinese officers and soldiers, thus triggering fierce physical conflicts and causing casualties.”

Anurag Srivastava, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, on Wednesday also said said that China’s claim over the Galwan Valley was “exaggerated and untenable” and contrary to the agreement reached during the June 6 meeting between the Indian and the Chinese senior commanders.

Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar had held the Chinese forces responsible for the killing of 20 Indian personnel, including a colonel, in Monday’s clashes at Galwan Valley. He made the comments when he spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Wednesday over phone for the first time since the month-long standoff between troops at several points along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and Sikkim began.

Jaishankar said the incident in Galwan was a “pre-meditated and planned action” by China, which led to the violence. He had called the killing of Indian soldiers an “unprecedented development” that will also “have a serious impact on the bilateral relationship” with China. However, both foreign ministers have agreed to de-escalate the situation.

This is the first instance of casualties on the Line of Actual Control since 1975. It came amidst a “de-escalation” process in the Galwan area that was started last week. Though some reports have said that around 40 Chinese soldiers died during these clashes, there is no official confirmation from Beijing. China and India have blamed each other for the violence.

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