Hours after China accused Indian troops of violating the consensus, India Tuesday hit back and said it has taken up the “matter of recent provocative and aggressive actions” with the Chinese side through both diplomatic and military channels and has “urged them to discipline and control their frontline troops from undertaking such provocative actions”.
In a detailed statement, the Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on Tuesday, “As you aware, India and China have been closely engaged through diplomatic and military channels over the past three months to resolve the situation along the India-China border. It would also be recalled that earlier the two Foreign Ministers and the two Special Representatives had agreed that the situation should be handled in a responsible manner and either side should not take any provocative action or escalate matters and ensure peace and tranquillity as per bilateral agreements and protocol.”
“The Chinese side however, violated this understanding and engaged in provocative military manoeuvers 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. As stated yesterday by Indian Army, the Indian side responded to these provocative actions and took appropriate defensive measures along the LAC in order to safeguard our interests and defend the territorial integrity. 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,” he said.
“The actions and behaviour of the Chinese side since earlier this year along the LAC has been in clear violation of the bilateral agreements and protocols concluded between the two countries to ensure peace and tranquillity on the border. Such actions are also in complete disregard to the understandings reached between the two Foreign Ministers as also the Special Representatives,” the MEA spokesperson said.
“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,” he said.
This came hours after China on Tuesday said that it had lodged diplomatic protests and claimed that Indian troops had “violated” the consensus on August 31 and “illegally trespassed the LAC.
The Chinese embassy spokesperson, Ji Rong, said in a statement, “On August 31st, Indian troops violated the consensus reached in previous multi-level engagements and negotiations between China and India, illegally trespassed the Line of Actual Control again at the southern bank of the Pangong Tso Lake and near the Reqin Pass in the western sector of China-India border, and conducted flagrant provocations, which again stirred tension in the border areas.”
“India’s move has grossly violated China’s territorial sovereignty, seriously violated relevant agreements, protocols and important consensus reached between the two countries, and severely damaged peace and tranquillity along the China-India border areas. What India has done runs counter to the efforts made by both sides for a period of time to ease and cool down the situation on the ground, and China is resolutely opposed to this,” she said.
The Chinese embassy spokesperson said that China has made “solemn representations to the Indian side, urged the Indian side to strictly control and restrain its frontline troops, earnestly honor its commitments, immediately stop all the provocative actions, immediately withdraw its troops illegally trespassing the Line of Actual Control, immediately stop any actions leading to the escalation and complication of the situation”.
Tensions soared in Ladakh after the Indian Army said on Monday: “On the Night of 29/30 August 2020, PLA troops violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in Eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo.”
“Indian troops pre-empted this PLA activity on the Southern Bank of Pangong Tso Lake, undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground. The Indian Army is committed to maintaining peace and tranquillity through dialogue, but is also equally determined to protect its territorial integrity. A Brigade Commander level Flag Meeting is in progress at Chushul to resolve the issues,” the Indian Army had said.
Interestingly, the two sides differed on the dates of the incident — while Indian Army said that the PLA troops violated the consensus on the night of August 29-30, the Chinese embassy said that the Indian troops violated it on August 31.
Sources had said that Indian troops had moved in to occupy dominating heights on its side of the LAC on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday on the south bank of Pangong Tso, after ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) reports suggested a PLA move to occupy the same areas.
These heights are also claimed by the Chinese, as lying on their side of the LAC.
The area, east of Thakung base, has always been under Indian control and is west of the Indian perception of the LAC, the sources said.
Chinese embassy spokesperson’s statement is on the same lines as the Chinese Defence and Foreign ministry statements on Monday.
On Monday, Chinese Western Theatre Command’s spokesperson Senior Colonel Zhang Shuili said in Chengdu that India troops illegally trespassed the Line of Control (LOC) again at the southern bank of the Pangong Tso Lake and near the Reqin Mountain and conducted flagrant provocations.
Zhang made the remarks in a written statement responding to the recent China-India border situation on Monday night.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian had said on Monday that the “Chinese border troops have been strictly observing the Line of Actual Control and never crossed the line. The Chinese and Indian border troops are in contact with each other regarding the issue on the ground.”
Meanwhile, the government on Tuesday decided that Defence minister Rajnath Singh will be headed to Moscow tomorrow to participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting of the Defence ministers.
Hosted by Russian Defence minister Sergey Shoigu, Singh will be attending the SCO Defence ministers’ meeting on September 3, and also get to meet Chinese Defence minister Wei Fenghe who will be in attendance.
Ahead of his departure, Singh held a high-level meeting to review the situation along the Line of Actual Control, especially in eastern Ladakh. The meeting, attended by top brass in the defence and security establishment, lasted for about two hours, sources said.
New Delhi is alarmed at the latest provocation by Chinese troops and Chinese President’s comments. Sources in the Indian establishment pointed to Saturday’s turn of events, where Chinese President Xi Jinping told the country’s highest-level meeting on Tibet that safeguarding border security should be a priority.
“In China, nothing of this sort is a coincidence,” a source told The Indian Express on Monday night.
Sources in New Delhi said that Chinese President Xi had on Saturday ordered party, government and military leaders to “solidify border defences and ensure frontier security” as well as ensuring “national security and enduring peace and stability” in the region, which shares a long border with India.
Xi was speaking at the seventh Central Symposium on Tibet Work, which finished in Beijing on Saturday. It is the country’s most important forum for Tibet policies, and the two-day event was the first such gathering since 2015. Saturday’s meeting was attended by the Politburo, leading members of the military, law enforcement agencies and judiciary, as well as leading officials from Tibet and neighbouring provinces.
The meeting took place after a rare visit to the region by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi earlier this month, which included a trip to the disputed border. Wang said during the trip that the security and stability of Tibet was of pivotal importance to China’s overall development.
Wang, in his visit to France Sunday (local time), delivered a speech at the French Institute of International Relations and answered questions about China-India ties, saying China is ready to manage all kinds of issues through dialogue with India and will not be the first to complicate or escalate the situation.