New Delhi: Foreign Secretary Harsh V. Shringla Friday said the ongoing tensions between India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh is the “most serious challenge” and similar to what both sides faced in 1962.
“We have had an unprecedented situation on the India-China border. We’ve never had this situation since 1962, we never lost lives in the last 40 years, it is an unprecedented situation. We have also seen there has been a unilateral attempt that seems to be an effort to change facts on the ground. We’ll be firm and resolute in resisting this,” Shringla said while virtually addressing the Indian Council of World Affairs.
In 1962, China had attacked India and the war went on for about a month after which China declared a unilateral ceasefire.
Shringla added, “As far as we are concerned, there’ll be no compromise on our sovereignty and territorial integrity. At the same time, as a responsible country, we are always willing to talk and ready to engage even in the depth of Covid crisis. We’ve kept our communication lines open. Our senior commanders have been talking on the ground. Diplomats have been talking to each other both in New Delhi and Beijing.”
Military-level talks have been going on since 31 August between both sides following fresh clashes near Pangong Tso on the intervening night of 29 August and 30 August as well as on 31 August.
Also read: Indian troops are using ‘new rules of engagement’ along LAC to counter Chinese aggression
‘It cannot be business as usual’
Shringla said, “…it is a fact that it cannot be business as usual. Unless there is peace and tranquillity in our border areas, the normal bilateral relationship will be affected. There is a linkage between what is happening on the border and our larger relationship and that in fact I think is very very evident.”
He added, “As we seek to resolve these issues and as we seek to maintain and revert to the status quo that existed before such aggressive actions took place, as we seek to de-escalate and disengage, I think that could be a way we could go back to. But not until then.”
This comes a day after the External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said the solution to the present crisis can only be found in the “domain of diplomacy”.
Jaishankar is to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi next week in Moscow at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Ministers meeting scheduled on 10 September.
Also read: India-China tensions ‘highly dangerous’ for the world, says German envoy Walter Lindner