New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Friday told his Chinese counterpart that Beijing was in violation of border agreements, while New Delhi was being responsible, but there should be no doubt about India’s determination to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
He also asked China to strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and that China should not make attempts to unilaterally change the status quo.
The minister’s remarks came during the over two-hour meeting with his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe in Russia, marking the first direct face-to-face talks between the political leadership of New Delhi and Beijing since border tensions began early May.
A statement released by the defence ministry Saturday said Singh “categorically conveyed” India’s position on the developments along the LAC, including in the Galwan valley in the Western Sector of the India-China border areas, in the last few months.
“He emphasised that the actions of the Chinese troops, including amassing a large number of troops, their aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo were in violation of the bilateral agreements and not in keeping with the understandings reached between the Special Representatives of two sides,” the statement said.
It added that the minister “stated clearly that while the Indian troops had always taken a very responsible approach towards border management, at the same time there should also be no doubt about our determination to protect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Singh is in Russia to attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a multilateral grouping that includes New Delhi, Moscow, Beijing, Islamabad and some other Asian states.
‘Chinese side too desired to resolve issues peacefully’
Singh also said that both sides should take guidance from the consensus of the leaders that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas was essential for the further development of the bilateral relations and that two sides should not allow differences to become disputes.
Accordingly, the two sides should resolve the ongoing situation and outstanding issues in the border areas peacefully through dialogue, he added.
“The Chinese defence minister conveyed that Chinese side too desired to resolve the issues peacefully,” the statement said, adding that Singh advised that it was important, therefore, that the Chinese side 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 on maintenance of peace and tranquillity in border areas.
Singh further said that the current situation should be handled responsibly and that neither side should take any further action that could either complicate the situation or escalate matters in the border areas.
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 tranquillity along the LAC at the earliest, Singh stated.
China issues statement blaming India, but says talks the focus
The Chinese defence ministry also issued a statement Saturday, saying the cause and truth of the current tension on the border between China and India are very clear, “and the responsibility lies entirely with India”.
“China’s territory cannot be lost, and the Chinese military is fully determined, capable, and confident to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it said.
However, it added that both sides should earnestly implement the important consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and insist on solving problems 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 the control of the front-line forces, refrain from provoking the current Line of Actual Control, refraining from any actions that may cause the situation to heat up, and refraining from deliberately hyping and spreading negative information.
“The two sides should focus on the overall situation of Sino-Indian relations and regional peace and stability, work together and meet each other halfway, to promote the current situation to cool down as soon as possible, and to maintain peace and tranquility in the Sino-Indian border area,” it added.