On Friday, speaking at a virtual event hosted by the Asia Society, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that the presence of a large number of Chinese troops with weapons at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh poses a “very critical” security challenge to India.
Jaishankar also said that the violent clashes at the de facto border in the Ladakh sector in June had a very deep public and political impact and it has left the relationship between India and China “profoundly disturbed”.
At the special Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) event, Jaishankar was in conversation with ASPI President Kevin Rudd, a former Australian prime minister. The two also spoke about Jaishankar’s new book ‘The India Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World”. Jaishankar said that India has built a relationship with China over the course of the last 30 years “and a basis for building that relationship has been peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control.”
He said that there are multiple agreements, starting from 1993, which created the framework for that peace and tranquillity, which limited the military forces that came to the border areas, how to manage the border, how border troops behave when they approach each other.
In response to a question on what did the Chinese actually do on the border and why they did it, Jaishankar said: “I haven’t frankly got any reasonable explanation that I can tell myself from them on this matter.” Jaishankar said that apart from the Wuhan Summit in April 2018, there was a similar summit in Chennai last year and the idea of these parleys was that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping spend time, talk to each other directly about their concerns.
On Tuesday, in order to effectively continue the disengagement process between both countries, the seventh round of military-level talks was held in Chushul between the Indian army and the Chinese army. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will be interacting via video conference in the upcoming BRICS summit on November 17, the first interaction between the two country heads since the Galwan valley violence, where 20 soldiers were martyred.
Defence Minister on LAC
During the monsoon session, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made a statement on the LAC situation in both the Houses of Parliament. He affirmed that the Armed Forces were capable of facing any challenge from China. While acknowledging that the situation at the LAC is very different both in terms of the scale of troops involve and the number of friction points, he reiterated India’s commitment for a peaceful resolution of the dispute. Moreover, the two countries’ foreign ministers have reached to a five-point consensus on continuing dialogue and quickly disengage, while honouring all existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs.
LAC tensions between India and China
On the intervening night of August 29-30, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements. The Indian troops not only pre-empted the activity of the PLA on the southern bank of the Pangong Tso lake but also thwarted attempts to unilaterally change the facts on the ground, with 20 Jawans making the ultimate sacrifice and inflicting casualties on the Chinese side that Beijing hasn’t yet revealed. On August 31, the MEA revealed that China once again engaged in provocative action even as the ground commanders of the two nations were trying to deescalate the situation. However, the Indian Army yet again foiled the attempt to unilaterally change the status quo.
On September 8, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) mouthpiece Global Times claimed that the Indian troops illegally crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and ‘outrageously fired warning shots’ on Chinese border patrol soldiers who were about to negotiate. The Indian Army refuted all the claims by China and clarified that India is committed to disengagement and de-escalating the situation on the LAC but China continues to undertake provocative activities to escalate.
Moreover, Chinese claims were laid bare and the truth was obfuscated when a photo from the incident showed PLA troops at the south bank of Pangong Tso in Eastern Ladakh sector milled together and armed with spears, machetes, other rudimentary weapons along and automatic rifles.
(with PTI inputs)