New Delhi: India on Wednesday blamed the violent incident in the Galwan Valley which took the lives of 20 Indian soldiers on “pre-meditated and planned action” by the Chinese troops even as both countries said they would avoid escalating matters and work towards ensuring peace and tranquility.
According to the MEA’s readout, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar protested “in the strongest terms” and accused China of having taken “pre-meditated and planned action” that led to the violence and caused casualties. “It reflected an intent to change the facts on ground in violation of all our agreements to not change the status quo,” stated the press release.
Jaishankar stressed that “this unprecedented development will have a serious impact on the bilateral relationship”.
This is the highest level of contact that has taken place between the two sides since India announced on Tuesday that 20 soldiers had been killed after a “violent face-off” where the two armies had been in the process of de-escalation after weeks of stand-off in eastern Ladakh. While China is also said to have suffered casualties, no official figures have been released.
As per India’s press release, the June 6 meeting at corps commander level had resulted in an agreement on “de-escalation and disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)”. Armies on both sides had been building their presence and had been in a stand-off at three points in eastern Ladakh since early May – Galwan valley, Pangong Tso lake and Hot Springs.
The Indian foreign minister stated that the de-escalation process had made some headway, but then the matter came to a head when the “Chinese side sought to erect a structure in Galwan valley on our side of the LAC”.
Jaishankar stated that the “need of the hour was for the Chinese side to reassess its actions and take corrective steps”.
Calling on both countries to “scrupulously and sincerely” implement the understanding reached by senior commanders on June 6, India said that troops should abide by the bilateral agreement and protocols. “They should strictly respect and observe the line of actual control and should not take any unilateral action to alter it,” said the Indian press release.
The Indian release said that the broad outcome of the discussion was that both sides agreed to handle the situation “in a responsible manner” and implement the disengagement understanding of June 6 “sincerely”.
“Neither side would take any action to escalate matters and instead, ensure peace and tranquillity as per bilateral agreements and protocols,” added the MEA press release.
The concluding paragraph of the Chinese foreign affairs ministry’s read out, which came earlier, said that the two sides “deal faire” and “jointly abide by the consensus reached at the military level meeting”.
The unofficial translation of the press note issue in Mandarin said that both India and China agreed to “cool down the situation on the ground as soon as possible, and maintain peace and tranquillity in the border area in accordance with the agreement reached so far between the two countries”.
While the language used by India and China for next steps were largely similar, the Chinese statement blamed Indian forces for crossing the LAC and “deliberately” provoking the violent face-off.
“This risky act of the Indian army seriously violated the agreement reached between the two countries on the border issue and seriously violated the basic norms of international relations,” it said.
China, through its foreign ministry and military spokesperson, has twice in the last two days laid sovereignty over the Galwan river valley.
The statement said that Wang Yi “once again” lodged a protest to the Indian side. The first protest by China had been made during the visit by the Indian ambassador Vikram Misri to the Chinese foreign ministry on Tuesday.
While blaming Indian soldiers for initiating the incident, the Chinese state councillor further said that India should prosecute “those responsible” for the violent face-off. “We urge the Indian side to conduct a thorough investigation on this, severely punish those responsible for the incident, strictly control the frontline troops, and immediately stop all provocative actions to ensure that such incidents cannot occur again.”
He warned that India “must not misjudge the current situation and must not underestimate China’s firm will to safeguard territorial sovereignty”.
Both the press releases said that the other side presented their version, but the Chinese readout also had a paragraph where Wang Yi apparently advocated a broader outlook.
“Wang Yi emphasised that both China and India are emerging forces with a population of more than one billion people, and accelerating their own development and revitalisation is our respective historical mission. For this reason, mutual respect and mutual support is the right way of the two sides, which is in the long-term interests of the two countries; mutual suspicion and mutual friction are evil roads, contrary to the fundamental aspirations of the two peoples,” said the statement.
The Chinese statement also urged both sides to follow the “important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and strengthen the communication and coordination on the proper handling of the border situation through the existing channels such as the meeting mechanism between the special representatives of the Sino-Indian border and the meeting mechanism of the border defence force, so as to jointly maintain peace and tranquillity in the border area”.
However, unlike the previous statements by India during the current crisis, MEA press release did not refer to the agreement between the leaders, which is a reference to the understanding reached at the two informal summits held so far.