MEA Asks China To Revert To Status Quo In Ladakh

MEA Asks China To Revert To Status Quo In Ladakh

23 April 2013
The Daily Excelsior


New Delhi: With Chinese forces intruding nearly 10 km inside Indian territory in Ladakh, India is likely to send an Army contingent to the area to be on guard even though it wants to avoid a confrontation. Indian Army had earlier sent a team of Ladakh Scouts- an infantry regiment specialising in mountain warfare- to the Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector, manned by the troops of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)- soon after it was discovered that the Chinese troops had set up a camp there. Additional troops may be deployed in the area if the situation does not de-escalate and Chinese troops do not go back to their old position, sources said here today. A platoon-strength contingent of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had come 10 km inside the Indian territory in Burthe in DBO sector, located at an altitude of about 17,000 feet, on the night of April 15 and established a tented post there. A Chinese Army Platoon usually consists of around 50 troops. On earlier occasions, the Indian and Chinese troops had transgressed into each other’s territory due to differences in perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The Defence Ministry had earlier also maintained that the LAC is not properly demarcated in some areas. ITBP troops have also established a camp approximately 300 m opposite the Chinese location and is monitoring the development. DBO, located in northernmost Ladakh, is an historic camp site and located on an ancient trade route connecting Ladakh to Yarkand in Xinjiang, China. India today asked China to revert to the status quo position in DBO sector in Ladakh where troops of both countries were in a face-to-face situation. “We have asked the Chinese side to maintain the status quo in this sector (of the western border),” official spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Syed Akbaruddin said, adding, “by this I mean the status quo prior to this incident.” He also added that “we see this as a face-to-face situation between border personnel of two sides due to differences on their alignment of Line of Actual Control”. The term “face-to-face” is not something that India has “conjured up”, it is something that is referred to in 2005 Protocol for implementation of CBMs in military field in the LAC in India-China border areas, he said. While referring to the relevant provision in the protocol, he said, under it “if the border personnel of the two sides come in a face-to-face situation due to differences on the alignment of the Line of Actual Control or any other reason, they shall exercise self-restraint and take all necessary steps to avoid an escalation of the situation. “Both sides shall also enter into immediate consultations through diplomatic and-or other available channels to review the situation and prevent any escalation of tension.” Speaking about the steps taken by the Government since the incident on April 15, the spokesperson said, India raised the issue with China last week immediately after the Chinese incursion came to light. Apart from Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai summoning the Chinese Ambassador to South Block, Gautam Bambawale, Joint Secretary in MEA, who is heading the India-China joint working mechanism to deal with issues on the boundary from the Indian side, spoke to his counterpart in Beijing last week, emphasising on the need to resolve the issue. The Chinese side said they will look into the issue and respond accordingly. However, when contacted the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi reiterated the comments made by their Foreign Ministry spokesperson in Beijing yesterday. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying had said yesterday that “China’s frontier troops have been abiding by the agreement between the two countries and abiding by the LAC agreed by the two countries. “Our frontier troops have been patrolling on the China’s side of LAC”, Hua had said, adding, “Our troops are patrolling on the Chinese side of the LAC and have never trespassed the line”. The Official Spokesperson also said that incident was a “localised event” in a sector where there are differing perceptions on LAC. “I would like to say we have all resolved all previous incidents peacefully and it is our hope that we would resolve this incident too peacefully,” Akbaruddin said, adding it can be done under existing agreements between the two countries. Apart from having issues with India on boundary, China is also having disputes on territorial matters with Vietnam and the Philippines among others around the South China Sea. China is also involved in a territorial dispute with Japan over islands in the East China Sea. Asked if the incident will impact the upcoming visit by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, the official spokesperson said both countries are committed to high-level visits which include Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to Japan. The two countries are working on the dates and programmes for these visits, he said. A day after rejecting any incursion by its troops in India’s Ladakh region, China today said both countries should work together to resolve the boundary dispute to “create good conditions for the sound development of bilateral relations”. Asked about the flag meeting being held by Indian and Chinese armies to discuss the stand-off over People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers’ move to erect tents 10 km into Indian territory in Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector in Ladakh, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told media here that she has nothing to add on this. “Yesterday I already expounded on this issue. I have nothing new to add today”, she said. But, at the same time, she said “I want reiterate that China and India relations have been developing on good momentum and the two sides have kept sound interaction and cooperation on the border issue”. “The two parties should work together to properly solve the issue left over from history though peaceful negotiations so as to create good conditions for the sound development of bilateral relations”, she said. Asked about External Affairs Ministry summoning Chinese Ambassador to New Delhi Wei Wei to stress on the need for resolving the issue, she said she is not aware of the development. Hua had said yesterday that Chinese soldiers have not trespassed the Line of Actual Control (LAC). “China’s frontier troops have been abiding by the agreement between the two countries and abiding by the LAC agreed by the two countries”, she had said. “Our frontier troops have been patrolling on the China’s side of LAC”, Hua had said, adding, “Our troops are patrolling on the Chinese side of the LAC and have never trespassed the line”. Meanwhile notwithstanding the incursion by Chinese troops in Ladakh, India has gone ahead with the visit of an Army delegation to Beijing to finalise the dates of bilateral military exercise expected to be held later this year. Sources here said the decision to send the delegation was taken to avoid any escalation in the situation after the Chinese incursion was detected in Daulat Beg Oldi area in Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir more than a week ago. The delegation is being headed by a Brigadier from the Military Operations Branch and it will finalise the date for the third edition of the hand-to-hand exercise between the two sides after a gap of four years, sources told reporters here. The exercise is expected to be held in September-October this year, they said. India and China had last held the last edition of the exercise in December 2008 in Belgaum in Karnataka while the first edition was held in 2007 in Kunming province of China. During the visit of former Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie to India last September, the two sides had decided to resume their military exercises. During the talks, Defence Minister A K Antony had also accepted an invitation to visit China. The visit is likely to see the two sides further discuss the proposal for a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement mooted by the Chinese side during the visit its Deputy Chief of General Staff last month. The border defence cooperation agreement proposes to avoid any misunderstanding or flare-up along the boundary.