China’s aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo are in violation of bilateral agreements

China needs to work towards complete disengagement at the earliest “from all friction areas” including Pangong Lake as well as de-escalation in border areas, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said late on Friday.

Meeting State Councillor and Defence Minister of China General Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet in Moscow, Singh warned China against making attempts to unilaterally change the status quo. The Line of Actual Control (LAC) should be strictly respected, he said.

Singh 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.

According to an official statement issued today, the Indian Defence Minister said, “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.

While the Indian troops had always taken a very responsible approach towards border management, China should be under no illusions about their determination to protect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Singh said in a strong message to China.

The State Councillor and Defence Minister of China said that both sides should scrupulously implement the consensus reached between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping, according to the statement.

The Chinese Defence Minister said the two countries should continue to solve the issues through dialogue and consultation, strictly follow the various bilateral agreements, strengthen the regulation of frontline troops and not undertake any provocative actions that might escalate the situation.

He pointed out that the two sides should focus on the overall situation of India-China relations and work together to de-escalate the situation as soon as possible, and maintain peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas.

The Chinese Defence Minister suggested that both sides should maintain communication at all levels including between the two Ministers.

During the talks in Moscow, Rajnath SIngh said that both sides should take guidance from the consensus of the leaders that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the 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.

Accordingly, the two sides should resolve the ongoing situation and outstanding issues in the border areas peacefully through dialogue, he said. The Chinese Defence Minister conveyed that the Chinese side too desired to resolve the issues peacefully.

The Indian Defence Minister stressed that neither side should take any further action that could either “complicate the situation or escalate matters in the border areas”.

Singh conveyed to China that the two sides should continue their discussions, including through diplomatic and military channels, to ensure complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquillity along the LAC at the earliest.

A tense standoff along the LAC took a violent turn on the night of June 15 when 20 Indian soldiers were killed in action in Galwan Valley. On the night intervening August 29 and 30, the Chinese side tried to open a new front when it engaged in provocative military actions in the South Bank of Pangong Lake.

On August 31 too, Chinese PLA troops engaged in provocative action, even as the ground commanders of the two sides were discussing ways to de-escalate the situation. But due to time action from the Indian side, the Chinese attempt to unilaterally alter the status quo on the border was foiled.