Straight talk, but is China listening?

In straight talk, without any nuanced diplomatic conversation, India on Thursday said that it expects China to sincerely follow up on the “disengagement understanding” and ensure restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

(The assertion came with the Chinese Army assiduously refusing to back off an inch -- as promised -- although statements emanating from Beijing are claiming to the contrary. Rather, satellite data suggests aggressive posturing by the PLA near the Galwan River and presence of makeshift structures, observation posts, radar and even water pipelines in Depsang Plains in eastern Ladakh).  

Pointing a finger at the incessant defiance, the External Affairs Ministry warned that perpetuation of the current standoff would only vitiate the atmosphere.

At the annual weekly virtual media briefing, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava asserted, “Respecting and strictly observing the Line of Actual Control is the basis for peace and tranquillity in the border areas. Indian troops are fully familiar with the alignment of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in all sectors of the India- China border and abide scrupulously by it. All infrastructure built by the Indian side has always been on its own side of the LAC. The Indian side has never undertaken any actions across the LAC and has never attempted to unilaterally change the status quo. However, the gesture has not been reciprocated by the Chinese and that from time to time has led to face-offs.”

 Srivastava said that since early May, the Chinese side has been amassing a large contingent of troops and armaments along the LAC. “This is not in accordance with the provisions of our various bilateral agreements, especially the key 1993 Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the LAC. This agreement notes in particular that ‘each side will keep its military forces in the areas along the line of actual control to a minimum level compatible with friendly and good neighbourly relations between the two countries’. Obviously, the Indian side had to undertake counter deployments and the resulting tension has thereafter expressed itself.’’

He flagged the need for handling the overall situation in a responsible manner and implementing the disengagement understanding reached in meetings this month. “Maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas is the basis of our bilateral relationship. It is imperative that the established mechanisms are used by both parties to address the current situation.”

 The MEA Spokesperson said that in recent days, India has made its position clear on the developments that are unfolding in the Western sector. He reiterated that facts have clearly established that Chinese actions led to increase in tension in the region and also the violent face-off and casualties on June 15.

Srivastava pointed out that contrary to reasonable expectations, the Indian side has unfortunately experienced in the last many years “obstruction to patrolling that often accompanies efforts to unilaterally change the status quo.” He said that the deployment of a large body of troops and changes in behaviour has also been aggravated by unjustified and untenable claims.

The MEA Spokesperson said that procedures and norms reflected in a number of agreements and understandings address situations where the two sides encounter each other. “While there have been occasional departures in the past, the conduct of Chinese forces this year has been in complete disregard of all mutually agreed norms.”

Repeating his statement of June 20, Srivastava said that the Chinese side departed from understandings in respect of the LAC in the Galwan Valley area and sought to erect structures just across the LAC.

“When this attempt was foiled, Chinese troops took violent actions in June 15, 2020, that directly resulted in casualties. Thereafter, both sides remain deployed in large numbers in the region while military and diplomatic contacts are continuing.’’

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