New Delhi: India has upped the ante with China through diplomatic talks even as it has urged Beijing to exercise restraint and adhere to the understanding reached during the commander-level meeting held on 6 June.
Tensions between the countries spiked after violent clashes broke out between soldiers of both countries in Galwan Valley Monday night, resulting in the death of at least 20 Indian soldiers, including a commanding officer. The two armies have been locked in a standoff since early May when soldiers clashed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
For the first time in over the month-long standoff, India Wednesday said Beijing wanted to “unilaterally change the status quo” while it “departed from the consensus to respect the Line of Actual Control in the Galwan Valley”.
The Army is drawing up a detailed situational report and is holding a series of high-level meetings.
“(We) will see more diplomatic activity in the coming days,” a top official told ThePrint, adding that New Delhi has already conveyed “diplomatic initiatives” to Beijing.
However, the Ministry of External Affairs is yet to officially announce if it has plans to summon the Chinese Ambassador in New Delhi, Sun Weidong.
Following the developments, sources said, New Delhi might seek to postpone the Russia-India-China trilateral meeting that is expected to take place on 22 June. Initially scheduled for March, the tripartite summit was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Incidentally, this year marks the 70th year of diplomatic ties between India and China.
Talks still on but vigilance along border increased
Army sources said talks, initiated Tuesday in the wake of the violent face-off that resulted in the death of at least 20 Indian soldiers and injuries to many others, will continue Wednesday.
As a precautionary measure, units posted all along the LAC have been asked to be extra vigilant and carry out patrols with bigger strength than before.
The sources said efforts were on to ensure the violence did not spill over to the other sectors given the fact that soldiers on the ground are very upset with what occurred late Monday evening.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is also set to carry out a full situational review Wednesday with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and the Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs.
The three service chiefs will also review the measures being taken at various levels to ensure that no front is left wanting, sources said.
Sources also said the Army is still in the process of making a final situational report detailing the injuries of soldiers and those who are still unaccounted for.
‘Withdrawing is a loss of face for China’
Sources in the security establishment Wednesday stated that several Indian soldiers were allegedly taken captive by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) but they returned following talks at a higher level.
“There were already indications earlier that the matter is going out of hands. What has happened is unusual, both the build-up as well as the violence itself. The soldiers had gone there to see limited disengagement when such an incident took place. This has immediately put pressure on both the leaderships. We have to understand what the Chinese really want,” said Jayadeva Ranade, former Indian intelligence officer who is now the president of Centre for China Analysis and Strategy.
China is yet to make an official statement on the number of casualties on its side.
“After all this, I don’t think they will withdraw easily as that will result in loss of face. It makes negotiations more difficult, talks will get more protracted and intense. Efforts are on for disengagement … (but) we might see more such incidents. This is an alarming situation. While they (China) are talking, the troops are still there. There is a certain kind of aggression with Chinese troops. They have also expanded their territorial claims,” Ranade added.
China’s Western Theatre Command claimed the Galwan Valley is Chinese territory even as it blamed India for the face-off.
The violent clashes that took place on the intervening night of 15 June and 16 June was the first such incident to occur in the last 45 years, the last time being in 1975.
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