New Delhi: For the first time since the standoff with China began across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh, India Thursday officially admitted that the Chinese side has been “amassing” a large number of troops and arms since early May.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), while border standoffs between troops on both sides have taken place earlier also, “the conduct of Chinese forces this year has been in complete disregard of all mutually agreed norms”.
“At the heart of the matter is that since early May, the Chinese side has been amassing a large contingent of troops and armaments along the LAC. This is not in accordance with the provisions of our various bilateral agreements, especially the key 1993 agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas,” said Anurag Srivastava, MEA spokesperson.
He said according to the 1993 agreement, “each side will keep its military forces in the areas along the Line of Actual Control to a minimum level compatible with friendly and good neighbourly relations between the two countries”.
“Obviously, the Indian side had to undertake counter deployments and the resulting tension has thereafter expressed itself,” added Srivastava.
This comes a day after both Indian and Chinese diplomats held talks on border affairs, particularly with reference to the Galwan Valley, under the aegis of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs.
Srivastava further said the commanders-level meeting on 6 June happened because of the several protests made by India both at the diplomatic and military levels.
Both sides ‘remain deployed in large numbers’
Srivastava said the violent face-off on the night of 15 June took place because the Chinese side attempted “to build structures just across the LAC”.
“When this attempt was foiled, Chinese troops took violent actions on 15 June 2020 that directly resulted in casualties. Thereafter, both sides remain deployed in large numbers in the region, while military and diplomatic contacts are continuing,” he added.
Earlier this week, there have been meetings both at the military and diplomat levels to resolve the dispute that has resulted in the killing of 20 soldiers and critical injuries to several others.
Srivastava highlighted that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have been patrolling all along the LAC, including in the Galwan Valley “for a long time”.
“… All infrastructure built by the Indian side has always been on its own side of the LAC. The Indian side has never undertaken any actions across the LAC and has never attempted to unilaterally change the status quo. However, that has not been reciprocated by the Chinese side and that from time to time has led to face-offs,” he said.
The spokesperson added over several years, both sides have developed patterns of patrolling and there is a general understanding that neither will prevent the other in conducting it.
“Unfortunately, we have experienced in the last many years obstruction to patrolling that often accompany efforts to unilaterally change the status quo … While there have been occasional departures in the past (from established norms), the conduct of Chinese forces this year has been in complete disregard of all mutually agreed norms,” he added.
Srivastava underlined that deployment of a large body of troops and changes in behaviour have also been “aggravated by unjustified and untenable claims… The recent shift in the Chinese position on the Galwan Valley is one example”.
The Chinese side has repeatedly claimed since the 15 June face-off that Galwan Valley is located on their side of the LAC, which India has categorically rejected.