Don't make attempts to unilaterally change status quo at LAC, Rajnath tells Chinese counterpart
In the first highest-level face-to-face contact after border tension erupted in eastern Ladakh in early May, Singh and Wei met for two hours and 20 minutes in Moscow.
NEW DELHI: India did not blink once during the two-and-a-half-hour intense meeting with China on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Moscow. Defence Mnister Rajnath Singh was as direct as possible during his interaction with his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe, stating Indian forces are determined to protect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Drawing attention to the fact that Indian troops have always taken a responsible approach towards border management, Singh said China’s aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo were in violation of the bilateral agreements.
The Chinese Defence Minister conveyed that the Chinese side desired to resolve the issues peacefully and suggested that both sides should maintain communication at all levels including between the two Ministers. Both the countries agreed to continue discussions and dialogue.
Later, the MEA said that Singh "emphasized that the actions of the Chinese troops, including amassing of large number of troops, their aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo were in violation of the bilateral agreements".
According to experts, Rajnath has a stern message to China not to escalate matters any further as India has the capability to protect its interests and will not hesitate to hit back if its national interests are hurt.
Lt Gen VK Chaturvedi (Retd) feels that the Indian forces' strong response to the PLA’s aggression has "rattled" the Chinese leadership. "The Chinese never expected such response from the Indian military, which not only has dug in its heels along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) but is also strengthening its positions," he said.
Lt Gen Chaturvedi added that India has successfully blocked China's 'salami slicing tactics' and told the Chinese to go back to positions before the end of April. Talking to this newspaper on condition of anonymity, a serving Army officer said that the Defence Minister’s statement has reaffirmed Indian stand on the territorial dispute, standoff and disengagement.
"The Statement is a clear-cut red line on how much is acceptable and what is non-negotiable," the officer said. Meanwhile, in a predictable response, Beijing blamed New Delhi for the situation along the LAC. "The relations have been severely affected by the border issue. The cause and truth of the current tension on the border between China and India are very clear, and the responsibility lies entirely with India," said Wei Fenghe.
A former diplomat said it was important that India stated its position. "We have seen in the past few days the statements from many quarters. The latest statement about the defence ministers’ meeting shows that India is not going to listen to China. We will put our foot down and stand up to them," he said.
According to BR Deepak, Sinologist and Chairperson of the Centre for Chinese and South Asian Studies at JNU, India's statement after the meeting points to the fact that India will not tolerate any unilateral change to the status quo.
Border row very nasty, would love to help: Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump has said that the situation along the India-China border has been very nasty and that he would love to get involved and help. "While we’re at it, we’re talking about China and India are going at it pretty good on the border, as you know. It’s been very nasty," he said at White House.
Asked if China is being the bully in the situation, Trump hoped that was not the case but observed that Beijing was 'really going at it'.