India says China’s ‘provocative behaviour’ on LAC disrupted normal ties

The brutal clash in Galwan Valley on June 15 last year, which saw troops from both sides fighting each other for several hours with rods, clubs covered with barbed wire and rocks, resulted in the first fatalities on the LAC in 45 years. The Indian side lost 20 soldiers while China has acknowledged four deaths.
The two countries withdrew frontline troops from the north and south banks of Pangong Lake in February and from Gogra in August. India has insisted bilateral ties can be normalised with China only when disengagement and de-escalation is completed at other friction points on the LAC. (Image used for representation). (PTI PHOTO.)
The two countries withdrew frontline troops from the north and south banks of Pangong Lake in February and from Gogra in August. India has insisted bilateral ties can be normalised with China only when disengagement and de-escalation is completed at other friction points on the LAC. (Image used for representation). (PTI PHOTO.)
Published on Sep 24, 2021 08:05 PM IST
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ByRezaul H Laskar and Sutirtho Patranobis

India on Friday blamed China’s “provocative behaviour” and unilateral attempts to alter status quo on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) for disruption of bilateral ties and rejected Beijing’s contention that the Indian side was responsible for the deadly Galwan Valley clash last year.

The remarks by external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi were a response to the Chinese foreign ministry’s assertion earlier in the day that the Galwan Valley incident was the result of Indian forces illegally trespassing on the LAC to “encroach on Chinese territory”.

The brutal clash in Galwan Valley on June 15 last year, which saw troops from both sides fighting each other for several hours with rods, clubs covered with barbed wire and rocks, resulted in the first fatalities on the LAC in 45 years. The Indian side lost 20 soldiers while China has acknowledged four deaths.

The testy exchange on Friday reflected the tensions caused by the dragging military standoff on the LAC that began in May 2020. The two sides withdrew frontline troops from the north and south banks of Pangong Lake in February and from Gogra in August. India has insisted bilateral ties can be normalised only when disengagement and de-escalation is completed at other friction points on the LAC such as Hot Springs and Depsang.

Responding to a question on the reorganisation of the Indian military into theatre commands and its impact on the Sino-India border at the Chinese foreign ministry’s regular news briefing, spokesperson Zhao Lijian said: “The Galwan Valley incident last year was caused by the Indian side’s illegal trespass of the LAC to encroach on Chinese territory, in violation of previously signed treaties and agreements.”

Zhao added, “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.”

The series of treaties and agreements signed by the two sides over the years on maintaining peace and tranquillity along the LAC had “played an important role in upholding stability along the China-India border”, he said.

The external affairs ministry spokesperson dismissed Zhao’s remarks that the Galwan Valley incident occurred because India violated all treaties and agreements and encroached on Chinese territory.

Bagchi said: “We reject such statements. Our position with regard to developments last year along the LAC in eastern Ladakh has been clear and consistent. 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 tranquillity.”

He added, “This has also impacted the bilateral relations. As emphasized by [external affairs minister S Jaishankar] in his meeting with Chinese [foreign minister Wang Yi] 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.”

Following a meeting between Jaishankar and Wang on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Dushanbe on September 17, the Indian side had said both ministers had agreed on further meetings of military and diplomatic officials to speedily resolve the remaining issues related to the standoff.

Several rounds of diplomatic and military talks have failed to end the tensions, the worst in decades. India has consistently rejected China’s accusations that Indian troops crossed the LAC in eastern Ladakh, and asserted that New Delhi has always taken a responsible approach to border management and maintaining peace and tranquillity.

Meanwhile, Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong said in a virtual address to a track II dialogue event on Friday that “peace and tranquillity in the border areas is important, but it is not the whole story of the bilateral relations”. His remarks reflected the Chinese position that the standoff be delinked from ties in other areas such as trade.

Addressing the event co-hosted by the School of International Studies of Sichuan University (SCU), China Center for South Asian Studies and the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, Sun said the difficulties witnessed in bilateral ties since 2020 had been “unseen for many years”.

The two countries should seek a “fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution” to the LAC standoff through dialogue, he said. “We hope that the Indian side will meet us halfway to move the situation towards stability and shift it from urgent dispute settlement to regular management and control, so as to jointly safeguard the peace and tranquillity of the border area,” he added.

Sun contended it is important for India and China to cooperate to counter turbulence and change on the global stage, the Covid-19 pandemic, sluggish economic recovery and the sudden changes in Afghanistan.

“The current status of bilateral relations [is] obviously not in the fundamental interest of either side. Many far-sighted people from both countries have advocated that China and India should improve their relations, and bring...relations back on track,” he said.

In an apparent jibe at groupings such as the Quad and AUKUS, Sun said some countries with a Cold War mentality were seeking “closed and exclusive ‘small cliques’ with the aim of containing a third party, stoking bloc confrontation and geopolitical games”.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2021