Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published: June 20, 2020 12:10:31 pm
This satellite photo provided by Planet Labs shows the Galwan Valley area in the Ladakh region near the Line of Actual Control. (AP)
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Saturday morning reiterated Beijing’s claim on the Galwan Valley, in a series of eight tweets.
Calling it a “step-by-step account of the Galwan clash”, he tweeted, “The Galwan Valley is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control in the west section of the China-India boundary. For many years, the Chinese border troops have been patrolling and on duty in this region.”
Chinese reiteration came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi told all-party meeting on Friday that neither has anyone intruded into the Indian territory nor has anyone captured any military posts.
“Na wahan koi hamari seema mein ghus aaya hai, na hi koi ghusa hua hai, na hi hamari koi post kisi doosre ke kabze main hai. Ladakh mein hamaare 20 jaanbaaz shaheed hue, lekin jinhone Bharat mata ki taraf aankh uthakar dekha tha unhe wo sabak sikhakar gaye,” the Prime Minister told top political leaders in his concluding address after a nearly three-hour-long all-party meeting that discussed the situation on the India-China border.
The tweets were a serialised version of his statement which was posted late night on Chinese Foreign ministry’s website.
China on Friday had said the Galwan valley was “located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control”, making an unprecedented formal claim on an area that has always been under India’s control.
This claim, made by the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing on Friday, had earlier been made only by the spokesperson of the Western theatre command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
In a statement issued late on Friday evening, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said: “The Galwan Valley is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control in the west section of the China-India boundary. For many years, the Chinese border troops have been patrolling and on duty in this region. Since April this year, the Indian border troops have unilaterally and continuously built roads, bridges and other facilities at the LAC in the Galwan Valley.”
India, however, rejects Chinese claims on Galwan valley. Earlier on June 16, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said the Chinese side had “departed from the consensus to respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley”. India was “very clear”, the spokesperson had said, “that all its activities are always within the Indian side of the LAC”, and “we expect the same of the Chinese side”.
But, China sought to reiterate it’s claims again today.
“China”, Zhao said, “has lodged representations and protests on multiple occasions but India has gone even further to cross the LAC and make provocations. By the early morning of May 6, the Indian border troops, who have crossed the LAC by night and trespassed into China’s territory, have built fortification and barricades, which impeded the patrol of Chinese border troops. They deliberately made provocations in an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo of control and management. The Chinese border troops have been forced to take necessary measures to respond to the situation on the ground and strengthen management and control in the border areas.”
Earlier this week, the PLA’s western theatre command spokesperson Colonel Zhang Shiuli had said that “the sovereignty over the Galwan Valley area has always belonged to China”.
There was no official response from the Ministry of External Affairs to the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s statement on Friday.
Earlier, in response to the PLA spokesperson’s statement, the MEA spokesperson had said that making “exaggerated and untenable” claims was contrary to the understanding reached in talks between the military commanders of the two sides on June 6.
The Galwan Valley has always been under India’s control, and has not figured in China’s maps since 1962.
Zhao insisted that the responsibility for the border clash lay “entirely” with the Indian side.
“I want to reiterate that the rights and wrongs of the severe situation in the Galwan Valley are very clear and the responsibility rests entirely with the Indian side. The two sides are in communication on easing the situation through diplomatic and military channels. China attaches importance to China-India relations and hopes that India will work with China to jointly maintain the larger picture of the long-term development of bilateral relations,” he said.
Zhao claimed that following a “strong demand” from the Chinese side, India had agreed “to withdraw the personnel who crossed the LAC and demolish the facilities, and so they did”. At the June 6 meeting, he said, “the Indian side promised that they would not cross the estuary of the Galwan river to patrol and build facilities” and that the two sides would discuss the phased withdrawal of troops.
But “shockingly”, Zhao said, “on the evening of June 15, India’s front-line troops, in violation of the agreement… once again crossed the Line of Actual Control for deliberate provocation… and even violently attacked the Chinese officers and soldiers who went there for negotiation, thus triggering fierce physical conflicts and causing casualties.
“The adventurous acts of the Indian army have seriously undermined the stability of the border areas, threatened the lives of Chinese personnel, violated the agreements reached between the two countries on the border issue, and breached the basic norms governing international relations. China has lodged solemn representations and strong protests to the Indian side.”
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