China creating hindrance in patrolling along Line of Actual Control, says govt
India on Thursday strongly refuted China’s contention that tensions in the Ladakh and Sikkim sectors were triggered by Indian troops crossing the Line of Actual Control (LAC), even as it accused Chinese forces of hindering patrols on the Indian side.
The Indian side said it is committed to peace and tranquillity along the border, but will take all steps to safeguard the country’s sovereignty and security. The remarks by external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava came against the backdrop of continuing tensions along the LAC, especially in Galwan Valley of Ladakh, where both sides have deployed additional troops.
New Delhi’s first official reaction to the tensions came a day after India was strongly supported by the US, with top American diplomat Alice Wells saying such disputes are a “reminder of the threat posed by China”.
In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian reiterated that Indian troops had trespassed across the LAC and dismissed Wells’ remarks as “just nonsense”. India should work with China and “refrain from unilateral actions” that complicate the situation, he said.
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China’s foreign ministry side had first accused Indian troops of trespassing across the LAC in a statement to Hindustan Times on Tuesday, saying Beijing had to take “necessary countermeasures” after the Indian side allegedly obstructed normal patrols by Chinese troops.
Asked about China’s position on the stand-off in Ladakh, external affairs ministry spokesperson Srivastava told an online news briefing: “Any suggestion that Indian troops had undertaken activity across the LAC in the western [Ladakh] sector or the Sikkim sector is not accurate.”
Srivastava added: “All Indian activities are entirely on the Indian side of the LAC. In fact, it is [the] Chinese side that has recently undertaken activity hindering India’s normal patrolling patterns.”
Indian troops, he said, “scrupulously” abide by the alignment of the LAC and all Indian activities “are entirely on the Indian side of the LAC”. The Indian side has a “very responsible approach towards border management”, and is “deeply committed to ensuring India’s sovereignty and security”, he added.
Indian troops strictly follow procedures in bilateral agreements and protocols to resolve situations arising from differences in perception of the LAC, Srivastava said. “The two sides have established mechanisms to resolve such situations peacefully through dialogue. Both sides remain engaged with each other to address any immediate issues,” he said.
In line with the consensus reached during the second India-China informal summit in Mamallapuram last year, the Indian side is firmly committed to the common objective of maintaining peace and tranquillity on the border, and this is an “essential prerequisite to the further development of...bilateral relations”, Srivastava said.
During an online briefing for journalists on Wednesday, Alice Wells, the outgoing head of the US state department’s South and Central Asian bureau, had said the border tensions were a reminder that “Chinese aggression is not always rhetorical”, and China’s “provocations and disturbing behaviour” raised questions about how Beijing seeks to use its growing power.
Responding to her remarks at a regular news briefing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao said: “The [US] diplomat’s remarks are just nonsense. China’s position on the China-India boundary issue is consistent and clear. China’s border troops firmly safeguard China’s territorial sovereignty and security and firmly dealt with the Indian side’s cross-over and infringement activities.”
Zhao added, “We urge the Indian side to work together with us, abide by our leadership’s important consensus, comply with the agreements signed, refrain from unilateral actions complicating the situation.”
He further said, “We hope they will make concrete efforts for peace and tranquillity in the border region. There are consultations and diplomatic channels between the two sides that have nothing to do with the US.”
Earlier this month, Indian and Chinese troops were involved in clashes in the Sikkim and Ladakh sectors that left several soldiers on both sides injured. The clashes were resolved at the level of local commanders, but both sides rushed in hundreds of soldiers as reinforcements, especially in Galwan Valley.
Reports have suggested that the Chinese side deployed troops and heavy equipment that were involved in an exercise to beef up positions in the Ladakh sector. China’s state-run media has described the latest tensions as the worst since the 2017 Doklam stand-off, which lasted 73 days.