NEW DELHI: India on Saturday rubbished a statement by the Chinese foreign ministry, which had once again claimed Galwan Valley as part of China and said that attempts by Beijing to now advance exaggerated and untenable claims with regard to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) were unacceptable.
In a statement that was a rebuttal to one put out by Beijing on Friday, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said Indian troops “are fully familiar with the alignment of the LAC in all sectors of the India-China border areas, including in the Galwan Valley.” Indian troops on patrols in the region and elsewhere abide by it “scrupulously.”
The Galwan Valley was the site of the violent clash between Indian and Chinese militaries on Monday in which a Colonel and 19 other Indian Army soldiers were killed. The faceoff was the worst in 45 years.
Stating that India “has never undertaken any actions across the LAC,” Srivastava said Indian troops have been patrolling the LAC areas “without any incident.”
“All infrastructure built by the Indian side is naturally on its own side of the LAC,” he said adding that it was the Chinese side that attempted to transgress the LAC in other areas of the western sector of the India-China border areas since mid-May.
“These attempts were invariably met with an appropriate response from us,” he said.
“Since early May 2020, the Chinese side has been hindering India’s normal, traditional patrolling pattern in this area,” Srivastava said adding that “this had resulted in a face-off which was addressed by the ground commanders as per the provisions of the bilateral agreements and protocols.”
“We do not accept the contention that India was unilaterally changing the status quo. On the contrary, we were maintaining it,” he said.
Following the rise in tensions in May, senior commanders of both countries met on 6 June and agreed on “a process for de-escalation and disengagement along the LAC that involved reciprocal actions,” he said. “However, the Chinese side departed from these understandings in respect of the LAC in the Galwan Valley area and sought to erect structures just across the LAC (on the Indian side) . When this attempt was foiled, Chinese troops took violent actions on 15 June that directly resulted in casualties,” he said.
Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on 17 June where New Delhi’s protests were conveyed “in the strongest terms” and “also underlined that it was for China to reassess its actions and take corrective steps.”
“The two Ministers also agreed that the overall situation would be handled in a responsible manner, and that both sides would implement the disengagement understanding of 6 June sincerely. The two sides are in regular touch and early meetings of military and diplomatic mechanisms are currently being discussed,” he said.
“India expects that Chinese side will sincerely follow the understanding reached between the foreign ministers of two countries recently to ensure peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” he added.
The lengthy statement was a point by point rebuttal of a statement released by the Chinese Foreign Ministery spokesman Zhao Lijian that began with China’s position that Galwan Valley” is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control in the west section of the China-India boundary.”
Since April, “Indian border troops have unilaterally and continuously built roads, bridges and other facilities at the LAC in the Galwan Valley,” he said adding that Beijing had lodged protests on multiple occasions which India disregarded.
On 6 May, Indian border troops crossed the LAC and trespassed into China’s territory building “fortification and barricades, which impeded the patrol of Chinese border troops,” Zhao said adding the Indian side did this “deliberately” to “unilaterally change the status quo of control and management. “
“The Chinese border troops have been forced to ….respond to the situation on the ground and strengthen management and control in the border areas,” he said referring to tensions flaring.
To ease the situation, China and India “stayed in close communication through military and diplomatic channels,” he said adding that “in response to the strong demand of the Chinese side, India agreed to withdraw the personnel who crossed the LAC and demolish the facilities” which was done.
On 6 June, the border troops of both countries held a commander-level meeting and reached consensus on easing the situation, Zhao said. “The Indian side promised that they would not cross the estuary of the Galwan river to patrol and build facilities and the two sides would discuss and decide phased withdrawal of troops through the meetings between commanders on the ground,” Zhao said.
But on the evening of 15 June, “India’s front-line troops, in violation of the agreement reached at the commander-level meeting, once again crossed the LAC for deliberate provocation when the situation in the Galwan Valley was already easing, and even violently attacked the Chinese officers and soldiers who went there for negotiation, thus triggering fierce physical conflicts and causing casualties.”
“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,” Zhao said.
“A second commander-level meeting should happen as soon as possible to deal with the situation on the ground,” he said.
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