China on Wednesday accused India of violating border agreements, and claimed that New Delhi was responsible for the months-long standoff, The Hindu reported. This contradicted Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement to the Lok Sabha that China violated the 1993 and 1996 boundary agreements, by amassing troops along the Line of Actual Control this year.
Singh had told the Lok Sabha that during dialogue with China at the military and diplomatic level, India has maintained three key principles: “Both sides should strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control; neither side should attempt to alter the status quo unilaterally; all agreements and understandings between the two sides must be fully followed.”
“The responsibility for the current situation does not lie with China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a press briefing. “It is the Indian side that has violated the agreements, first trespassed, and first fired shots to threaten the safety of the Chinese border troops.” Wang said India must begin disengagement of troops on the ground immediately.
“For the Chinese side, we have been honouring the agreements signed between China and India,” Wang claimed, according to the Hindustan Times. “We are committed to peace and stability in the border area.”
Wang also denied India’s charge that Chinese troops laid a network of optical fiber cables at the Pangong Tso Lake on the India-China border. Asked whether neither side has made significant troop withdrawals since last week’s foreign ministers’ meeting, Wang said China hopes India will “earnestly implement the consensus between the two foreign ministers and work with China to make concrete efforts for de-escalation”.
On Wednesday, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported that Chinese troops had last week “raised their combat readiness to the second-highest possible” level, after warning shots were fired on September 7. The newspaper said the alert was lowered after a meeting of the foreign ministers of the two countries in Moscow.
Wang added on Wednesday that China is ready to work with India to remain in dialogue and consultation through diplomatic channels, in an effort to ensure peace and tranquility along the border.
Military heads of the two countries have engaged in several rounds of talks over the last three months after 20 Indian and unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed in violent clashes in Galwan Valley. But these talks have failed to break the impasse.
On September 10, India’s Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. The two ministers agreed on a five-point plan to defuse tensions between the countries and said the current situation in the border areas of Ladakh was “not in the interest of either side”. They agreed, therefore, that the border troops of both sides should “continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions”.
On September 7, China accused India of “outrageously firing warning shots” in a new confrontation on the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake, describing it as as “a serious military provocation”. India denied this and said Chinese troops attempted to close in on Indian forward positions along the Line of Actual Control and “fired a few rounds in the air”. This was the first confirmed use of firearms on the Line of Actual Control by troops in more than four decades.
On September 1, the Ministry of External Affairs had said that Chinese troops engaged in “provocative action” on August 31, while discussions between ground commanders were underway. This followed by earlier moves on the intervening night of August 29 and 30, which, the Indian Army said, were “provocative” military movements to change the status quo.