New Delhi: India Friday hit back at China after Beijing blamed the June 2020 Galwan Valley clash on the “Indian side’s illegal trespass… [in] Chinese territory”.
“We reject such statements… It was the provocative behaviour and unilateral attempts of the Chinese side to alter status quo in contravention of all our bilateral agreements that resulted in serious disturbance of peace and tranquility,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
Twenty Indian soldiers died in the 15 June Galwan Valley clash, which took place in the initial months of the year-long stand-off between the Indian and Chinese armies in Ladakh. China has admitted to five fatalities on its side in the clash, which marked the first instance of fatal violence between the two nations since 1975.
Bagchi was responding to a statement by his Chinese counterpart, who told reporters in Beijing Friday that the Galwan Valley incident was caused by the “Indian side’s illegal trespass of the LAC (Line of Actual Control) to encroach on Chinese territory, in violation of previously-signed treaties and agreements”.
“We hope that the Indian side will strictly abide by relevant treaties and agreements signed by the two countries and take concrete actions to safeguard peace and stability in the China-India border areas,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian added.
The remarks come less than a week since External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Tajikistan.
Bagchi said India’s position on the ongoing border standoff, which has been resolved at certain points of conflict in eastern Ladakh while other issues remain, has been “clear and consistent”, adding that it has adversely impacted bilateral ties.
“As emphasised by EAM (external affairs minister) in his meeting with the Chinese FM earlier this month, it is our expectation that the Chinese side will work towards early resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in eastern Ladakh while fully abiding by bilateral agreements and protocols,” he added.
‘Quad doomed to fail’
At the briefing, Zhao also said the Quad — the India, US, Australia Japan grouping that China has repeatedly lambasted — was “doomed to fail” and will find “no support”.
He was referring to the Quad summit scheduled for later Friday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is currently in the US, where he will not only be meeting Joe Biden for the first time since his election as President, but will also attend the first in-person summit of the Quad, short for the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.
“China always believes that any regional cooperation mechanism should not target or harm the interests of a third party. A closed, exclusive clique targeting other countries runs counter to the trend of the times and the aspirations of regional countries,” he said.
At a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Modi and his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga in Washington Thursday, Tokyo yet again raised the issues of East China Sea and South China Sea, where Chinese aggression has concerned other countries in the region.
Responding to that meeting, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said, “‘Lying diplomacy’ and ‘smearing diplomacy’ are not constructive at all and must be put to a stop. China is firmly committed to safeguarding its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. China is ready to continue to properly handle differences with countries concerned through consultation and negotiation.”
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)