India and China have agreed to deal with the “serious matter” triggered by the violent clash between border troops in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on Monday in a “just” manner, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday.
“Both sides (India and China have) agreed to deal with the serious matter caused by the conflict at the Valley in a just manner, jointly observe the commander level talks consensus and deescalate the tensions as soon as possible and safeguard the peace and tranquility,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian said at the regular ministry briefing on Thursday.
Zhao took six questions on the border incident but managed to skirt it all by repeating statements and not revealing China’s casualty figures.
He declined to respond to queries on reports of China building a dam on the Galwan river at the Sino-Indian border to obstruct its flow.
To a question on whether the confrontation started when the Indian troops arrived to demolish structures set up by China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Zhao reiterated China’s allegation, squarely blaming the Indian troops for the incident.
“The right and wrong of this case is very clear and responsibility doesn’t lie with the Chinese side,” he said, adding that China has provided the details of the case.
Twenty Indian Army soldiers, including a colonel, were killed in the clashes with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on Monday night.
Beijing hasn’t revealed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) casualty numbers though China’s government-controlled official media has acknowledged it without mentioning numbers.
Zhao reiterated Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s statement, which was issued after he had a telephone conversation with India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar.
The Indian minister conveyed India’s protest in “strongest terms” to Beijing and said the unprecedented development will have “serious impact” on the bilateral ties. He asked the Chinese side to reassess its actions and take corrective steps, the ministry of external affairs said in a statement in New Delhi.
Separately on Thursday, Hua Chunying, director general of the Chinese foreign ministry’s information department, said India must not underestimate its firm will to safeguard its territorial sovereignty.
“India must not misjudge the current situation or underestimate China’s firm will to safeguard its territorial sovereignty,” Hua tweeted.
“Indian front-line troops broke the consensus and crossed the Line of Actual Control, deliberately provoking and attacking Chinese officers and soldiers, thus triggering fierce physical conflicts and causing casualties,” she said in a follow-up tweet.
A large number of Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation in Galwan Valley and other areas of eastern Ladakh for the last five weeks, since May, including in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh.