The Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday said that China once again engaged in provocative military maneuvers on August 31, even as the group commanders of the two sides were in discussions to de-escalate tensions between the two countries along the Line of Actual Control. The ministry said that the Indian side managed to thwart Beijing’s latest attempt to “unilaterally alter the status quo”.
The new escalation in tensions came a day after Indian Army said its soldiers had thwarted similar “provocative” movements by China’s military on Saturday night in the South Bank area of Pangong Lake.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the foreign ministry said that India and China have been closely engaged through diplomatic and military channels over the past three months to resolve the situation along the border. It said that representatives from both sides have repeatedly emphasised on the need to “not take any provocative action or escalate matters” and ensure peace and tranquility as per existing bilateral agreements and protocol.
“The Chinese side, however, violated this understanding and engaged in provocative military maneuvers in the late night of 29th and on 30th August in an attempt to change the status quo in the South Bank area of Pangong Lake,” the statement added. “Furthermore, yesterday on 31st August, even as the ground commanders of the two sides were in discussions to de-escalate the situation, the Chinese troops again engaged in provocative action. Due to the timely defensive action, the Indian side was able to prevent these attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo.”
The Centre said China’s actions were a clear violation of the bilateral agreements and protocols concluded between the two countries to ensure peace along the border. “Such actions are also in complete disregard to the understandings reached between the two Foreign Ministers as also the Special Representatives,” it added.
“We have taken up the matter of recent provocative and aggressive actions with Chinese side through both diplomatic and military channels and have urged them to discipline and control their frontline troops from undertaking such provocative actions,” the statement said.
Tensions between India and China escalated after a clash between the two countries’ armies on June 15 in Ladakh led to the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and an unidentified number of Chinese soldiers. Several rounds of talks have so far failed to break the impasse.
Last week, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar had said that the military stand-off between India and China in Ladakh was “surely the most serious situation” since the 1962 Indo-China war over Aksai Chin.
Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat had also said that the “military option” was available if talks with China failed. He said that defence personnel were always prepared “should all efforts to restore status quo along the LAC do not succeed”.