China has alleged that India was “obviously… illegally trespassing” along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the de facto border between the two countries – during a military stand-off in the eastern Ladakh region on August 29 and 30 that India said was a provocative attempt to change the status quo.
India has yet to respond to this statement, which comes days after ministerial-level meetings in Moscow last week – the Foreign Ministers and the Defence Ministers of the two countries met; after the talks the Chinese Foreign Minister claimed the two countries needed “mutual trust, not suspicion”.
After the late August stand-off, the Indian Army said the Chinese “violated previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements… and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo”.
However, in a statement posted on the Chinese embassy's website on Monday, Ambassador Sun Weidong was quoted as saying: “… Indian ministries had claimed that Indian troops “pre-empted” Chinese military activity on the south bank of Pangong Tso Lake, which obviously revealed that they are illegally trespassing (along) the LAC and (trying to) change status quo in border areas.”
The Ambassador then referred to the meeting between Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, and said: “It is important to move back all personnel and equipment that have trespassed. Frontier troops must quickly disengage so that the situation may deescalate”.
These comments come even as satellite imagery of the Pangong Lake region from last week shows further Chinese construction activity in the North Bank and creation of new Chinese posts near the LAC in the South Bank.
They also come after China had been told, during the talks in Moscow, that its frontline troops were engaged in “provocative behaviour at numerous incidents of friction” and had disregarded bilateral agreements and protocols, sources said.
According to sources, it was also emphasised that the Indian troops had “scrupulously” followed all agreements and protocols pertaining to the management of the border areas.
In July, after several rounds of military-level talks that followed the violence in eastern Ladakh's Galwan in June (20 Indian soldiers died for their country and around 40 Chinese were killed or injured, although this was never confirmed), government sources told NDTV China had still not pulled back to the April 2020 status quo.
The Chinese “are not honouring their commitment for disengagement at the friction points in Eastern Ladakh and not moving back as per the agreed terms, news agency ANI said then, quoting sources.
In Moscow the Foreign Ministers agreed on a five-point plan to deescalate the situation and “prevent any untoward incident in the future”.
This plan, India told China, according to sources, was to immediately ensure a comprehensive pull-back of all troops from friction areas.
After Moscow Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called on China to handle the situation in a responsible manner and not take action “that could either complicate or escalate matters”.