Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe on Friday, said that China violated bilateral agreements by trying to unilaterally change the status quo along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and exhibiting aggressive behaviour, according to a statement from his office. The two leaders met on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Moscow.
Singh and his Chinese counterpart met for more than two hours, the Ministry of Defence said. Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and Indian Ambassador to Russia DB Venkatesh Varma were also part of the delegation.
“RM [Raksha Mantri] emphasised that the actions of the Chinese troops, including amassing of large number of troops, their aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo were in violation of the bilateral agreements,” Singh’s office said in a tweet. “He categorically conveyed India’s position on the developments along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) including in the Galwan valley in the Western Sector of the India-China Border areas in the last few months.”
Singh told China that India would not compromise on its territorial integrity. “The Indian troops had always taken a very responsible approach towards border management, but at the same time there should also be no doubt about our determination to protect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Singh’s office quoted him as saying at the meeting.
The defence minister added that India and China must continue bilateral talks to deescalate the situation at the border. “The two sides should continue their discussions, including through diplomatic and military channels, to ensure complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquility along the LAC at the earliest,” Singh said.
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Singh also emphasised on the need for India and China to handle the tensions responsibly. “Neither side should take any further action that could either complicate the situation or escalate matters in the border areas,” he said. “The Chinese side should work with the Indian side for complete disengagement at the earliest from all friction areas including Pangong Lake as well as de-escalation in border areas in accordance with the bilateral agreements and protocols.”
China blames India for tensions
The Chinese side, meanwhile, said that India was “entirely” responsible for the border tensions and said that it would not surrender even “an inch of its territory”, The Hindu reported.
“The cause and truth of the current tension on the China-India border are very clear, and the responsibility lies entirely with the Indian side,” China’s defence minister said. “Not an inch of China’s territory can be lost. The Chinese military has the resolve, capability and confidence to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The minister, Wei Fenghe, added: “The two sides should earnestly implement the important consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi and stay committed to resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation. It is hoped that the Indian side will strictly abide by the series of agreements reached by the two sides, effectively strengthen control over front-line troops, refrain from provocations across the current Line of Actual Control or take any actions that may cause the situation to heat up, and not deliberately hype up or spread negative information.”
The India-China conflict
Tensions between India and China have flared up again, over two months after the troops of both the countries clashed on the border on June 15, in Ladakh. Twenty Indian soldiers lost their lives and 76 were injured. An unidentified number of Chinese soldiers also died in the clash.
On September 1, India had said that China had once again engaged in provocative military maneuvers along the Line of Actual Control. The new escalation in border tensions came a day after the Indian Army said its soldiers had thwarted similar the movement of the Chinese military in the South Bank area of Pangong Lake in Ladakh.
Indian Army chief Manoj Mukund Naravane had said on Friday that the situation along the Line of Actual Control was “slightly tense” and precautionary measures were taken to increase security.
On Thursday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar suggested that a solution for the continuing tensions along the Line of Actual Control with China has to be found through diplomacy. The foreign minister said it was imperative for both the countries to reach an “accommodation” not just for themselves, but the world as well.