New Delhi: In the first high-level political contact between India and China since border tensions flared up in May, defence minister Rajnath Singh categorically told his Chinese counterpart Gen. Wei Fenghe that there should be no doubt about India’s determination to protect its territorial integrity and China should not make attempts to unilaterally change the status quo on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Rajnath Singh also said neither side should take any action that could either complicate the situation or escalate matters.
The defence ministers met in Moscow on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Moscow on Friday. The meeting went on for two and a half hours. However, no breakthrough emerged.
Chinese state media reported that Gen. Wei told Rajnath Singh that India bore full responsibility for the current border tensions and that the Chinese military has the determination, capability and confidence to safeguard China's territorial integrity. Gen. Wei reportedly also said that "not an inch of China's territory should be lost."
The Chinese statement comes against backdrop of the Indian Army’s move to preempt the People’s Liberation of Army and occupy over two dozen strategic peaks on the southern banks of the Pangong Tso and Spanggur Gap. This has not gone down well with Beijing.
The Indian Defence Ministry said in a statement that the two ministers had a frank discussion about the developments in the India-China border areas. “Raksha Mantri 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 India-China border areas in the last few months,” said the statement.
Rajnath Singh told the Chinese delegation that the actions of the Chinese troops, including amassing of 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 two sides.
He said that Chinese side should work with India for complete disengagement at the earliest from all friction areas, including Pangong Lake as well as de-escalation in border areas in accordance with the bilateral agreements and protocols on maintenance of peace and tranquillity in border areas.
Singh also conveyed that the two sides should continue their discussions, including through diplomatic and military channels, to ensure complete disengagement and de-escalation at the earliest.
“Raksha Mantri said that both sides should take guidance from the consensus of the leaders that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in India-China border areas was essential for the further development of our bilateral relations and that two sides should not allow differences to become disputes,” said the defence ministry.
Indian defence ministry statement also said that Gen. Wei agreed both sides should scrupulously implement the consensus reached between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping and continue to resolve issues through dialogue and consultation.