New Delhi: After the Indian and Chinese foreign ministers met and issued a five-point guiding principle, Chinese ambassador to India Sun Weidong reiterated on Monday that India had transgressed the un-demarcated boundary and highlighted Indian media reports on firing having taken place twice at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
On September 10, Indian external affairs minister S. Jaishankar and Chinese state councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Forum in Moscow. After two-and-a-half hours of talks, the two sides jointly released a press statement, which listed five principles to be followed to resolve the current military stand-off at eastern Ladakh that has lasted over four months.
The two sides also released separate supplementary press releases that explained their point of view about the significance and outcome from the meeting.
Four days later, the Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong released a statement in a question and answer format.
“Recently, the relevant Indian ministries had claimed in the statements that Indian troops ‘pre-empted’ Chinese military activity on the South Bank of Pangong Tso Lake, which obviously revealed that there are illegal trespassing the LAC and status quo change in the border,” he said.
The Indian army had issued a statement on August 31 that it had “pre-empted” PLA’s “provocative military movements to change the status quo” on the border lake’s south bank.
The Chinese ambassador’s remarks that Indian troops had begun the ‘provocations’ was note-worthy, as the earlier press note about the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s words at the meeting had steered clear of the usual blame game.
Further, the Chinese envoy noted, “Some Indian media had quoted government sources to disclose that the Indian army fired shots on two different occasions”. “For the first time since 1975, the calm in the border areas was broken by gunfire,” he added.
China had first claimed that Indian troops had fired warning shots on September, an accusation India robustly denied. New Delhi stated that Indian troops had at no stage transgressed the LAC or resorted to firing. Instead, India accused Chinese soldiers of firing a “few rounds in the air” after being stopped from “closing in” on forward positions near the LAC.
India Today had first reported that shots had been fired earlier too during the current stand-off. “On August 31, there was a brief exchange of ‘warning shots’ when Chinese troops attempted to approach and evict Indian soldiers from strategic heights in south Pangong. It has been clarified that these too were merely ‘warning shots’ and not offensive exchange of gunfire,” it stated.
A few days later, The Hindu reported that shots had been fired earlier on August 30, but there was no clarity on how the firing began. None of the media reports stated that India had fired the first shots. The Chinese ambassador also didn’t make that claim and just quoted media reports that “Indian army fired shots on two different occasions”.
Ambassador Sun asserted that it was “in this context” that Councillor Wang had called for immediate end to “provocations such as firing and other dangerous actions that violate the commitments made by the two sides”.
“It is also important to move back all personnel and equipment that have trespassed,” he said.
Sun underlined that “frontier troops must quickly disengage so that the situation may deescalate”.
He repeated that China supports enhanced dialogue between the frontier troops on both sides to solve specific issues, and will stay in touch with the Indian side through diplomatic and military channels.
“Regarding the future development, the two foreign ministers agreed that as the situation eases, the two sides should expedite work to conclude new confidence building measures to maintain and enhance peace and tranquility in the border areas. The way ahead for solution is very clear,” he said.
Describing the five-point consensus as a “important step in right direction”, ambassador Sun said he had “noted public opinion in India generally made positive comments on the five-point consensus, which is of the view that both sides have demonstrated political will to resolve the border situation”.
“I hope and believe that as long as the two sides earnestly implement the consensus reached by the two foreign ministers to the front-line troops and adhere to the correct means of dialogue and negotiation, the two sides will find a way to overcome the current difficulties,” he added.