China’s amassing of troops, bids to change status quo to blame for LAC standoff: India
India on Thursday blamed China’s actions of amassing troops in border areas and attempting to change the status quo on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) for the ongoing military standoff, dismissing Beijing’s contention that New Delhi’s policies were to blame for the tensions.
The latest war of words between the foreign ministries of the two countries came against the backdrop of a lack in progress in disengagement and de-escalation of frontline troops following a limited drawdown on the north and south banks of Pangong Lake in February. India has insisted that peace and tranquillity on LAC is a prerequisite for normalcy in the overall bilateral relationship.
“It is well recognised that it has been the Chinese actions over the last year, including amassing of a large number of troops close to border areas in the western sector, and trying to unilaterally alter the status quo along the LAC, which have seriously disturbed peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a weekly news briefing.
These actions, he said, have violated several bilateral agreements, including the 1993 and 1996 agreements which “mandate that the two sides shall strictly respect and observe the LAC and that the two sides will keep their military forces in the areas along the LAC to a minimum level”.
Bagchi was responding to questions regarding the Chinese foreign ministry’s contention on Wednesday that Chinese troops were deployed at the border to prevent India from encroaching on Chinese territory, and that India’s aggressive policies alone were to blame for tensions on the LAC.
“The military deployment by China in the western sector along the border is a normal defensive arrangement. It is meant to prevent the encroachment or threat against China’s territory by relevant country,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian had said.
Zhao had contended the Indian side had been increasing its military presence along the border and “encroaching upon Chinese territory”. This, he said, was the root cause of the “tense situation along the borders”.
The Chinese side further said the border issue shouldn’t be linked to bilateral ties.
The strong Indian response to the stance adopted by China’s foreign ministry reflected the position taken in recent weeks by external affairs minister S Jaishankar, who has maintained that Beijing’s actions were responsible for the military standoff and that bilateral relations could move forward in all spheres only after the two countries addressed the situation on the LAC.
India has repeatedly said complete disengagement at all friction points on the LAC and peace and tranquillity in the border areas alone can lead to the normalisation of the overall bilateral relationship.
Participating in a virtual dialogue at the Qatar Economic Forum on Tuesday, Jaishankar said the onus is on China to adhere to written agreements with India on not deploying large numbers of armed troops along the border so that the two countries can take forward their ties on the basis of mutual sensitivity, mutual respect and mutual interest”.
Though there has been considerable speculation about India and China holding a meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs, Bagchi told the briefing that he didn’t “have any update to share for the moment”.
More than a year after the standoff began, the disengagement of troops is yet to be completed after 11 rounds of military talks and seven rounds of diplomatic talks. China’s People’s Liberation Army has continued the deployment of troops and heavy equipment on the LAC and inducted the army’s air defence units in its air force command chain, establishing a joint air defence system for the first time.