Galwan Valley standoff: Amid India-China 'deescalation', Beijing lashes out at New Delhi, blaming it for LAC clash
Zhao Lijian reasserted China’s claim that the confrontation on 15 June in the Galwan Valley, part of the disputed Ladakh region, occurred on China’s side of the Actual Line of Control and Indian forces had illegally entered Chinese territory.
China on Wednesday again accused India of provoking a border clash earlier this month that left at least 20 soldiers dead, but urged New Delhi to “meet China halfway” in restoring peace and stability along their disputed frontier high in the Himalayas.
Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, at a daily briefing, offered a longer explanation of China’s view of the incident, but gave little new information.
He reasserted China’s claim that the confrontation on 15 June in the Galwan Valley, part of the disputed Ladakh region, occurred on China’s side of the Actual Line of Control and Indian forces had illegally entered Chinese territory.
"First, it is the Indian border troops who crossed the line first," Zhao said. "The Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western sector of the boundary is clear. The Galwan Valley lies on the Chinese side of the LAC. The Chinese border troops, who have all along been patrolling the area, know very well the situation of management and control on the ground."
Zhao further accused India of "unilaterally changing the status quo" since April by building roads and bridges at and across the LAC in the Galwan Valley and added that China had lodged representations on multiple occasions.
"On the early morning of 6 May, Indian border troops crossed the LAC under the cover of night, trespassed into China's territory and deliberately made provocations," Zhao said. "The Chinese border troops were compelled to take necessary measures to respond to the situation on the ground and strengthen management and control along the border."
“The responsibility (for the incident) is entirely not on the Chinese side," Zhao claimed.
“The reckless actions by the Indian military seriously violated agreements signed between the two countries and seriously violated the basic principles of international relations. They were evil in nature and the consequences were severe," Zhao said.
He added that the foreign ministers, during their 17 June phone call, had agreed to handle the serious situation in a "just manner", observe the agreement reached during commander-level talks, cool the situation on the ground as soon as possible, and uphold peace and tranquility of the border areas in accordance with bilateral agreements.
"From 22 to 23 June, the two sides held the second round of commander-level talks and agreed to jointly take necessary measures for de-escalation, and work together for the peace and tranquility in the border areas. We hope the Indian side can strictly observe and implement the above-mentioned consensus, meet China halfway and take real actions to restore peace and stability in the border areas," Zhao stated.
Asked why China was offering such a lengthy defence of its position when the sides had already agreed to reduce tensions, Zhao said that was to counter a “large amount of fake news" on the matter being circulated by Indian diplomats and the country’s media.
A nearly identical statement was issued by China's defence ministry, which said Chinese troops had taken ”defensive measures and determinedly counterattacked against the Indian side's violent actions, successfully protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Commanders agreed Monday to disengage their forces in their first meeting since the confrontation.
On Wednesday, Indian and Chinese officials participated in a video conference and reaffirmed that both sides should sincerely implement the understanding on disengagement and deescalation reached by the army commanders, Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Anurag Srivastava said in a statement.
The clash was the deadliest between the two countries in 45 years. India said 20 of its soldiers died. China has not released any information on casualties on its side.
Soldiers brawled with clubs, rocks and their fists at 4,270 metres bove sea level, but no shots were fired, Indian officials have said. The soldiers carry firearms but are not allowed to use them under a previous agreement in the border dispute.
Indian security officials said the fatalities were caused by severe injuries and exposure to subfreezing temperatures.
The valley falls within a remote stretch of the 3,380-kilometre Line of Actual Control — the border established following a war between India and China in 1962 that resulted in an uneasy truce.
The tensions appear to be rooted in China's objections to India building a road through a valley connecting the region to an airstrip, possibly sparking Beijing's move to assert control over territory along the border that is not clearly defined in places.
In all, China claims some 90,000 square kilometres of territory in India’s North East, including Arunachal Pradesh. India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometres of its territory in the Aksai Chin Plateau in the western Himalayas, including part of the Ladakh region.
With inputs from AP
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