China uses VK Singh's 'unwitting confession' on LAC situation to counter India
His comments also assume significance amidst the backdrop of the on-going border tensions due to which around 1 lakh Indian and Chinese troops are deployed in eastern Ladakh, and both sides are showing indications of having dug in for the long haul
China has picked up on Union Minister VK Singh's comments that India has "transgressed more frequently across Line of Actual Control than the People's Liberation Army" to counter India's position on the situation along the LAC.
"With China our border has never been demarcated. Over a period of time, there have been transgressions where China says this is my perception of the LAC. Similarly, none of you come to know how many times we have transgressed as per our perception. We don't announce it. Chinese media doesn't cover it. But let me assure you, if China has transgressed 10 times, we must have done it at least 50 times, as per our perception," Singh told reporters on Sunday.
China lost no time in latching on to Singh's statement, as it reacted merely a day later calling the Minister of State's words an "unwitting confession by the Indian side."
“If China has transgressed 10 times, we must have done it at least 50 times.” V. K. Singh, an Indian Union Minister of State, also former Army General, accidentally told truth of China-India border situation. It’s India that breaks border status quo, China has to respond to it. pic.twitter.com/SzIdVEqtnM
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) February 7, 2021
Singh's assertion has especially been hard to ignore or waive off as overzealous posturing by a politician as he also happens to be the former Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army and the former junior minister for External Affairs. With Singh's credentials behind his recent statement, it will be difficult for the government to clarify whether he was mistaken, untruthful or ignorant about the subject at hand.
His comments also assume significance amidst the backdrop of the on-going border tensions due to which around 1 lakh Indian and Chinese troops are deployed in eastern Ladakh, and both sides are showing indications of having dug in for the long haul.
India's response to Chinese accusation of transgressions
Although there has been no official comments from the Ministry of External Affairs on Singh's assertions and the subsequent comments from China, India has always categorically rejected the allegations of transgressions and maintained that it has never taken any action across LAC. India has also blamed China for the recent deterioration in ties.
Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan told the Rajya Sabha last week that it was the Chinese military's attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo along the LAC that have seriously disturbed peace and tranquility in the eastern Ladakh region.
"Since April/May 2020 the Chinese side undertook several attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo along the LAC in the western sector. These attempts have been responded to appropriately by our armed forces," Muraleedharan said. "It has also been made clear to the Chinese side that such unilateral attempts are unacceptable. These actions have seriously disturbed the peace and tranquillity along the LAC in the western sector," he added.
Indian Army has also categorically rejected PLA's claims.
In September 2020, India had strongly rejected PLA claims that Indian soldiers had illegally crossed the Line of Actual Control and entered the south bank of Pangong Lake and the Shenpao mountain area. "At no stage has the Indian Army transgressed across the LAC or resorted to use of any aggressive means, including firing," the Indian Army had stated post Chinese allegations.
"In the instant case on 07 September, it was China's PLA troops who were attempting to close-in with one of our forward positions along the LAC & when dissuaded by own troops, PLA troops fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate own troops. It is the PLA that has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres, while engagement at military, diplomatic and political level is in progress," the Indian Army had said as per news reports from the time.
Earlier in June 2020 after the Galwan Valley incident, Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said, "Indian troops are fully familiar with the alignment of the LAC in all sectors of the India-China border areas and abide scrupulously by it. They have been patrolling all along the LAC, including in the Galwan Valley, for a long time. 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."
India has also denied similar claims in the past but Singh's assertions changes things around.
Indian response to Chinese aggression has historically been a combination of its diplomatic and military prowess. With China's gigantic military budgets and PLA's advanced weaponry, India has had to rely on global support to negotiate from a position of strength.
According to an article in The Indian Express, regional strategic groupings like the QUAD and alliances with other powers could be the central fulcrum in India's China strategy.
Russia has also quietly supported Indian cause in the past despite enjoying strategic relations with China. According to a report in The Print, Russia turned down the Chinese request not to sell arms to India even though Russia depends quite a bit on arms sales to China to shore up its own GDP.
India has also received support from US both under Trump and Joe Biden administration. PTI quoted Emily J Horne, spokesperson, National Security Council (NSC) of the White House as saying, "The United States is concerned by Beijing's pattern of ongoing attempts to intimidate its neighbours. We stand with our friends, allies and partners to advance our shared prosperity, security and values in the Indo-Pacific region."
Trump too has, in the past, slammed "China’s aggressive stance along the India-China border" which he said, " fits in with a larger pattern of Chinese aggression in other parts of the world…"
But the global cooperation has been a response to China's history of aggressive expansionist policies and territorial disputes with almost all of its neighbours. India, on the other hand, has stoically maintained its policy of not starting unprovoked altercations. Any dilution of India's strategic position of a peace-loving responsible democracy may have repercussions in the longer run.
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