India won’t “cede an inch of land”, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has told his Chinese peer Wei Fenghe. At a meeting on the sidelines of the SCO summit, Singh stressed that India is determined to protect integrity and sovereignty of the country at all costs, said sources.
The meeting, lasting two and half hours, had been sought by the Chinese side. Experts believe that since India took control of strategic heights north of Pangong Lake in Ladakh at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), China is keener for talks. Singh and Wei were in Moscow to attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation defence ministers on Friday. Sources said Singh gave point-by-point rebuttal to the claims made by the Chinese minister.
Sources said Wei even chose to come down to the hotel where the Singh was putting up for the dialogue. The Chinese minister, an army veteran with close to five decades of experience, has made three requests for the meeting in the last 80 days. India also issued a statement on the meeting which said the Defence Minister "categorically conveyed India's position on the developments along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) including in the Galwan valley in the Western Sector of the IndiaChina Border Areas in the last few months"
"He emphasised that the actions of the Chinese troops, including amassing a large number of troops, their aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo were in violation of the bilateral agreements and not in keeping with the understandings reached between the Special Representatives of the two sides," it added. The border row between India and China heated up particularly after June 15 when soldiers from both sides got into fierce clashes in Galwan Valley in which 20 Indian troops were killed.
The Chinese side also suffered casualties but it is yet to share the details. An American intelligence report said China lost 35 men. In past few days, China unsuccessfully attempted to occupy Indian territory the southern bank of Pangong lake when the two sides were engaged in diplomatic and military talks to resolve the four-month-old border row. This prompted India to occupy a number of strategic heights on the southern bank of glacial lake and strengthen its presence in Finger 2 and Finger 3 areas. While China has strongly objected to India's move, New Delhi has maintained that the strategic heights are on its side of the LAC.