Chinese counterpart says, ‘won’t surrender an inch of our land’; both agree to parleys
Cautioning Beijing to refrain from attempts to unilaterally change the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Defence Minister Rajnath Singh asked his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe to withdraw his forces from all friction points.
Indicating vastly different perception about the border tension, Wei said China will not surrender even “an inch” of its land and blamed India for the current situation. Both the leaders, however, agreed to continue the dialogue process at all levels to defuse tension at the volatile border.
These takeaways came from the two-hour-and-20 minute long meeting between Rajnath and Wei in Moscow on Friday on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers’ conclave. This was the first interaction between the two Ministers since the face-offs began more than four months back.
Giving details of the meeting, officials said here on Saturday that Rajnath clearly conveyed to his Chinese counterpart that China must respect the LAC and not make any attempt to “unilaterally” change its status quo. He also asserted that India is determined to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Stating that ramping up troop levels and adopting an aggressive behavior were in violation of the bilateral pacts, Rajnath told Wei the current situation should be handled responsibly, and that neither side should take any further action that could either complicate the situation or escalate matters in the border areas.
He also stressed that the two sides should continue their discussions, including through diplomatic and military channels, to ensure “complete disengagement and de-escalation” along the LAC at the earliest. This view was endorsed by the Chinese Defence Minister also.
Officials said the Defence Minister pointed out the Indian troops had always taken a very responsible approach towards the border management, but there should be no doubt about India’s determination to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
China tried to transgress into Indian territory on August 29 and 30 in the south bank of the Pangong Tso (lake) in Ladakh. The Indian Army foiled these attempts and managed to dominate crucial hilltops in the region, thus gaining an advantage in the region.
The Chinese Defence Minister, however, said India was “entirely” responsible for the border tensions and China would not give up “an inch of its territory.” This was reported by the official media after the talks between the two Ministers.
The Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Wei saying, “Recently the relations between the two countries and the two militaries have been seriously affected by the border issue” and it was “very important for the two Defence Ministers to have a face-to-face and candid exchange of views on relevant issues.”
Wei reiterated China’s stand in the talks, echoing several statements last week where Beijing blamed India for the latest tensions. China on Wednesday said “the responsibility lies entirely with the Indian side” and had “kept maximum restraint to prevent potential escalation”, calling on India to “immediately withdraw its troops”.
Wei said, “The cause and truth of the current tension on the China-India border are very clear, and the responsibility lies entirely with the Indian side.” He also said, “Not an inch of China’s territory can be lost,” adding the “the Chinese military has the resolve, capability and confidence to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
He said, “The two sides should earnestly implement the important consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and stay committed to resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation.”
The Chinese Defence Minister also said, “It is hoped that the Indian side will strictly abide by the series of agreements reached by the two sides, effectively strengthen control over front-line troops, refrain from provocations across the current Line of Actual control or take any actions that may cause the situation to heat up, and not deliberately hype up or spread negative information.”
He added, “The two sides should bear in mind the overall interests of China-India relations and regional peace and stability, make joint efforts to meet each other halfway, cool down the current situation as soon as possible and safeguard peace and tranquility in the China-India border areas.”
Sunday, 06 September 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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