China not matching words with action in border issue with India, Rajnath tells Rajya Sabha
New Delhi, September 17, 2020
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today said that while India wanted to resolve the border issue with China through diplomatic and military engagement, the neighbouring country was not matching its words with action.
Making a statement in the Rajya Sabha on the current situation in Ladakh, the Minister said, “While no one should doubt our determination to safeguard our borders, India believes that mutual respect and mutual sensitivity are the basis for peaceful relations with neighbours. As we want to resolve the current situation through dialogue, we have maintained diplomatic and military engagement with the Chinese side.
“In these discussions, we have maintained the three key principles determining our approach that both sides should strictly respect and observe the LAC; neither side should attempt to alter the status quo unilaterally and all agreements and understandings between the two sides must be fully abided by in their entirety,” he pointed out.
“The Chinese side, on its part, took the position that the situation should be handled responsibly and ensure peace and tranquillity as per bilateral agreements and protocol. However, it is apparent from Chinese activities that their words do not match their actions. A case in point is that even when the discussions were going on, the Chinese side again engaged in provocative military manoeuvres on the night of August 29-30 in an attempt to change the status quo in the South Bank area of Pangong Lake. But yet again, timely and firm actions by our armed forces along the LAC prevented such attempts from succeeding,” the Minister said.
Rajnath Singh said the Chinese actions reflect a disregard of the various bilateral agreements. The amassing of the troops by China goes against the 1993 and 1996 Agreements. Respecting and strictly observing the Line of Actual Control is the basis for peace and tranquillity in the border areas and explicitly recognized in both 1993 and 1996 agreements, he said.
“While our Armed Forces abide scrupulously by it, this has not been reciprocated by the Chinese side. Their actions have led to face-offs and frictions from time to time along the LAC. As I mentioned earlier, the agreements have detailed procedures and norms to deal with the situation of face-offs. However, in the recent incidents, this year, the violent conduct of Chinese forces has been in complete violation of all mutually agreed norms,” he added.
“As of now, the Chinese side has mobilized a large number of troops and armaments along the LAC as well as in the depth areas. There are several friction areas in Eastern Ladakh including Gogra, Kongka La and North and South Banks of the Pangong Lake. In response to China’s actions, our armed forces have also made appropriate counter deployments in these areas to ensure that India’s borders are fully protected.
“The House should have full confidence that our armed forces will always rise to the challenge and do us all proud. This is still an ongoing situation and involves sensitive operational issues. I would, therefore, not be able to give more details in public and I am confident about the understanding of the House in this regard,” the Minister said.
"This rapid deployment by the armed forces including ITBP has taken place in a challenging time of COVID-19. Their efforts need to be appreciated. It has also been made possible by the high importance that the Government has placed for developing border infrastructure in the last few years. Over the last many decades, China had undertaken significant infrastructure construction activity that enhanced its deployment capabilities in the border areas.
"However, in response, the Government too has stepped up the budget for border infrastructure development to about double the previous levels. As a result, more roads and bridges have been completed in the border areas. This has not only provided much-needed connectivity to the local population but has also provided better logistical support for the armed forces, enabling them to be more alert in the border areas and respond more effectively where required.
“In the coming years too, the Government remains committed to this objective. We will not back down from taking any big and tough step in the interest of our country,” he added.
“I would like to emphasize that India remains committed to resolving the current issues in our border areas through peaceful dialogue and consultations. It was in pursuit of this objective that I met my Chinese counterpart on September 4 in Moscow and had a detailed discussion regarding the current situation with him. I conveyed in clear terms our concerns related to the actions of the Chinese side, including the amassing of a large number of troops, their aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo that violated the bilateral agreements.
“I also made it clear that even as we wanted to peacefully resolve the issue and would like the Chinese side to work with us, there should also be no doubt about our determination to protect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. My colleague, External Affairs Minister Jai Shankar has thereafter met the Chinese Foreign Minister in Moscow on September 10. The two have reached an agreement, which, if implemented sincerely and faithfully by the Chinese side, could lead to complete disengagement and restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” he said.
Rajnath Singh said in the past too, prolonged stand-offs had taken place in the border areas with China that were peacefully resolved. “Even though the situation this year is very different both in terms of the scale of troops involved and the number of friction points, we do remain committed to the peaceful resolution of the current situation.
“It is true that we are facing a challenge in Ladakh, but I am confident that our country and our brave soldiers will be able to surmount every challenge. I urge this House to unanimously honour the courage and valour of our Armed Forces. A message of unity and complete confidence of our brave soldiers will resonate not only across the country but also across the world and shall infuse new confidence, new energy and unlimited enthusiasm in our forces,” he added.
Earlier, tracing the history of the dispute, he said China continues to be in illegal occupation of approximately 38,000 sq. km in the Union Territory of Ladakh. Also, under the so-called Sino-Pakistan 'Boundary Agreement' of 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 sq. km. of Indian territory in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to China. China also claims approximately 90,000 sq. km. of Indian territory in the Eastern Sector of the India-China boundary in Arunachal Pradesh.
Both India and China have formally agreed that the boundary question is a complex issue which requires patience and have committed to seeking a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution through dialogue and peaceful negotiations. In the interim, the two sides also agree that the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas is an essential basis for the further development of bilateral relations.
“As yet there is no commonly delineated Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the border areas between India and China and there is no common perception of the entire LAC. Therefore, to ensure peace and tranquillity in the border areas, especially along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the two countries have concluded several agreements and protocols.
Under these agreements, the two sides have agreed to maintain peace and tranquillity along the LAC without any effect on their respective positions on the alignment of the LAC as well as on the boundary question.
“It is on this basis, that our overall relations also saw considerable progress since 1988. India’s position is that while bilateral relations can continue to develop in parallel with discussions on resolving the boundary question, any serious disturbance in peace and tranquillity along the LAC in the border areas is bound to have implications in the positive direction of our ties,” he added.