China gives version of clashes, demands India’s withdrawal from Galwan valley

Published June 25, 2020
China is demanding an Indian withdrawal from the entire valley and limiting India’s presence to the “Galwan estuary”, where it meets the Shyok. — Reuters/File
China is demanding an Indian withdrawal from the entire valley and limiting India’s presence to the “Galwan estuary”, where it meets the Shyok. — Reuters/File

NEW DELHI: China has demanded a withdrawal of Indian personnel and facilities from Galwan valley, and this was conveyed at the Corps Commander talks on June 6 and June 22, The Hindu quoted officials from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) as saying on Wednesday.

The statements from Beijing came as both sides “agreed to resolve the existing situation peacefully,” following talks through video conference on Wednesday under the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on border affairs, The Hindu said in a dispatch from its correspondent in Beijing.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said both sides “discussed in detail the developments in the India-China border areas in particular the situation in Eastern Ladakh.” India “conveyed its concerns” on the June 15 face-off that claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers and “emphasised that both sides should strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control (LAC)”, it stated.

China’s statements, however, pointed to sharp differences on where the LAC lies in Galwan valley. The valley begins from the confluence of the Galwan and Shyok rivers, and the LAC that both sides had been observing runs east of the confluence, in the valley. China, however, is demanding an Indian withdrawal from the entire valley and limiting India’s presence to the “Galwan estuary”, where it meets the Shyok.

Wednesday’s statements from Beijing appeared to describe the LAC at the “estuary” of the river. The MEA said last week China’s claims over the entire valley were “exaggerated” and “untenable”.

At Wednesday’s talks, the MEA said both sides agreed to “sincerely implement the understanding on disengagement and de-escalation that was reached by the Senior Commanders” and that doing so “expeditiously” would “help ensure peace and tranquillity in border areas and the development of broader relationship between the two countries.”

The MFA, in a statement, said both sides would “actively cooperate with the armed forces of the two countries to implement the consensus from the two rounds of military leaders’ talks on June 6 and 22 , strengthen communication and coordination between military and diplomatic channels, and peacefully resolve relevant issues in border areas through bilateral dialogue and consultation.”

The talks were led by Naveen Srivastava, Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the MEA, and Hong Liang, Director General of the Department of Boundary and Oceanic Affairs of the MFA, The Hindu said.

At the same time, China’s MFA and the Defence Ministry, in separate statements, accused India of breaking the agreement of June 6, and claimed India had committed to not patrolling in the valley or building facilities there. The Defence Ministry said India “should bear full responsibility for the incident that was solely and completely triggered by its breach of consensus and unilateral provocations” and “demanded the Indian side severely punish those who should be held accountable, strictly discipline its front line troops so as to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.”

MFA spokesperson Zhao Lijian said, “It is the Indian side that went against the bilateral agreement. The Indian side at first agreed to withdraw personnel from Galwan valley which it did, and it dismantled its facilities as requested by the Chinese side.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2020

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