China News: China once again claims sovereignty over Galwan Valley

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New Delhi: China once again on Wednesday claimed its sovereignty over the ‘Galwan Valley region’, asking India not to cross Galwan-Shyok estuary, even as talks were underway between foreign ministries of both sides to de-escalate the tension.

In a twin attack against India, Chinese foreign and defence ministries slammed Delhi for violating “bilateral agreements, international rules and provoking the clash” and blamed Delhi for June 15 incident.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in Beijing: “My statement just now is meant to clarify the whole situation, tell the truth to everyone. We made the statement because the MEA in India and also Indian media have made some false reports.”

Chinese defence ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said: “But what is shocking is that on the evening of June 15, Indian front-line frontier troops openly violated the consensus reached by the two sides, turned their backs, and once again crossed the actual control line to deliberately provoke China. While negotiating on the spot, Chinese officers and soldiers were suddenly violently attacked by the Indian side. This triggered intense physical clashes between officers and soldiers on both sides, resulting in casualties.”

The statements struck a jarring note for the 15th Meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination (WMCC) on India-China Border Affairs, which virtually agreed that peace at LAC would contribute to the development of broader relationship between the two countries. WMCC also took note of the discussions in the second meeting of the senior commanders held on June 22, according to MEA statement. The two sides also agreed to maintain communication both at diplomatic and military levels, including under the framework of WMCC to resolve the existing situation peacefully. China, on its part said, there were free and frank discussions at WMCC.

The two sides discussed in detail the developments in the border areas, in particular the situation in eastern Ladakh. The Indian side conveyed its concerns on the recent developments in eastern Ladakh, including on the violent faceoff at the Galwan Valley. In this regard, it was emphasised that both sides should strictly respect and observe the LAC, according to the MEA statement.

The bilateral agreements and protocols to maintain peace at LAC include Sino-Indian boundary agreements of 1993 and 1996. The 1993 agreement states in case personnel from either side cross the LAC, “upon being cautioned by the other side, they shall immediately pull back to their side of the Line of Actual Control”. China has not done that either in Galwan or Pangong Tso. The PLA rather built structures and stationed its troops which can be considered troop build up.

No activities of either side shall overstep the line of actual control. In case personnel of one side cross the Line of Actual Control, upon being cautioned by the other side, they shall immediately pull back to their own side of the Line of Actual Control. When necessary, the two sides shall jointly check and determine the segments of the Line of Actual Control where they have different views as to its alignment,” according to the 1993 Agreement.

Three years later both sides went into further specifics, making it clear that troops on both sides shall “exercise self-restraint” in case of a face-off situation and start “immediate consultations” through diplomatic channels.

The 1996 agreement states, “If the border personnel of the two sides come in a face-to-face situation due to differences on the alignment of the line of actual control or any other reason, they shall exercise self-restraint and take all necessary steps to avoid an escalation of the situation. Both sides shall also enter into immediate consultations through diplomatic and/or other available channels to review the situation and prevent any escalation of tension.”

The agreement, also for the first time in India-China rules of engagement, makes it clear that “neither side shall open fire or conduct blast operations within 2 km of the Line of Actual Control”. This is what led to a practice, where troops on both sides, never brandished weapons at each other and at most, indulged in a physical jostle.





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