Eastern Ladakh border row | China says U.S. is attempting to add fuel to the fire

Eastern Ladakh border row | China says U.S. is attempting to add fuel to the fire

A visiting U.S. General had termed Chinese activity in eastern Ladakh as “eye-opening”

A day after a visiting U.S. General termed the Chinese activity level in eastern Ladakh as “eye-opening” and infrastructure being created in their Western Theatre Command as “alarming, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) reacted sharply on Thursday saying that U.S. officials are trying to add “fuel to the fire” and “pointing fingers” and termed it a “despicable act”.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) did not respond directly to the comments by Commander of U.S. Army Pacific General Charles A. Flynn, but reiterated that Government of India “carefully monitors” developments along the border areas. Noting that the two sides have agreed to hold another round of Corps Commander talks, MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said it is their “expectation” that in these talks the Chinese side will work with the Indian side to reach a “mutually acceptable solution for remaining issues.”

“This border issue is between China and India, the two sides have the will and capability to properly resolve the issue through talks and some U.S. officials are trying to add fuel to the fire and pointing fingers,” Chinese MoFA Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in response to a question at the daily briefing in Beijing. “This is a despicable act. We hope they will do more to contribute to regional peace and stability.”

Mr. Zhao further stated that now the situation on the India-China border is stabilising “on the whole” and the frontline forces from both countries have “realised disengagement in most areas along the western section.”

Expressing alarm at the Chinese activity, Gen. Charles A. Flynn, in an interaction with journalists on Wednesday, questioned their “intentions” while also expressing concern at their “behaviour”. On the regional situation, he said what they [China] are doing today by taking an “incremental and insidious path” and the “destabilising and coercive behaviour” that they project into the region are simply “not helpful.”

Government taking all measures

The government is committed to and takes all adequate and appropriate measures to safeguard territorial integrity and sovereignty as the developments in the recent years clearly demonstrate, Mr. Bagchi said responding to questions at the weekly press conference.

Stating that the two sides have agreed to hold another round of Senior Commanders meeting during the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) talks last week, Mr. Bagchi said, “It is our expectation that in these talks the Chinese side will work with the Indian side to reach a mutually acceptable solution for remaining issues given the fact that both sides also agree that the prolongation of the existing situation in not in the interest of either side or overall relations.”

On the current situation in eastern Ladakh, Mr. Bagchi said India has maintained continuous communication with the Chinese side through both the diplomatic and military channels. “We will maintain our dialogue with the Chinese side to resolve the remaining issues,” he said. 

We have always maintained that restoration of normalcy will obviously require restoration of peace and tranquility along the LAC which had been disturbed by Chinese actions in 2020, Mr. Bagchi added.

There have been 15 Rounds of Senior Commanders’ Meetings and 10 Rounds of meetings of WMCC. The two sides have undertaken disengagement from both sides of Pangong Tso in February 2021, and from Patrolling Point (PP) 17A in Gogra Hot Springs area in August, in addition to Galwan in June 2020 after the violent clash. The other friction areas yet to be resolved are PP15, Demchok and Depsang.

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