China on Friday claimed the entire Galwan Valley in Ladakh, the site of the violent June 15 clashes, including areas that are currently on India’s side of the Line of Actual Control. A statement by Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian was issued hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at an all-party meet that no outsider was inside Indian territory in Ladakh nor had any border post of the Indian Army been captured by outside forces during the face-off with Chinese troops.
“The Galwan Valley is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control in the west section of the China-India boundary,” Zhao said. “For many years, the Chinese border troops have been patrolling and on duty in this region. Since April this year, the Indian border troops have unilaterally and continuously built roads, bridges and other facilities at the LAC in the Galwan Valley. China has lodged representations and protests on multiple occasions but India has gone even further to cross the LAC and make provocations.”
However, the Galwan Valley has always been under India’s control. It has not figured in China’s map since 1962.
India has not yet responded to China’s claim.
The Chinese spokesperson also gave a detailed account of Monday’s clashes, which claimed the lives of at least 20 Indian personnel in the worst violence on the border since 1975. Zhao blamed India for the incident, saying New Delhi “deliberately made provocations” to unilaterally change the status quo of control and management of the area.
“By the early morning of May 6, the Indian border troops, who have crossed the LAC by night and trespassed into China’s territory, have built fortification and barricades, which impeded the patrol of Chinese border troops,” the statement said. “The Chinese border troops have been forced to take necessary measures to respond to the situation on the ground and strengthen management and control in the border areas.”
Zhao claimed Indian troops had violated the agreement reached during commander-level talks between both sides and crossed the Line of Actual Control. “They even violently attacked the Chinese officers and soldiers who went there for negotiation, thus triggering fierce physical conflicts and causing casualties,” he alleged. “The adventurous acts of the Indian army have seriously undermined the stability of the border areas, threatened the lives of Chinese personnel, violated the agreements reached between the two countries on the border issue, and breached the basic norms governing international relations.”
On Wednesday, India’s Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar had held the Chinese forces responsible for the killing of Indian soldiers. 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 had said the incident in Galwan was a “pre-meditated and planned action” by China, which led to the violence. He said the incident was an “unprecedented development” that will also “have a serious impact on the bilateral relationship” with China. Jaishankar had told Wang that Chinese troops had sought to erect a structure in Galwan valley on the Indian side of the LAC, leading to violence.
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