China ‘occupying 38,000 sq km of Indian land’

IANS & iNDICA NEWS BUREAU

China is in illegal occupation of 38,000 square km of Indian land and it considers another 90,000 square km as its own, India’s defense minister Rajnath Singh said in Parliament Tuesday.

This is the first official confirmation from India of Chinese troops occupying Indian land.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier said in a video-recorded speech that “no one” had entered Indian territory.

Defense minister Singh pointed out that the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is not clearly delineated, and said that China has tried to disrupt the ground situation in May and June which led to India’s response.

We have told China that such incidents won’t be acceptable to us,” Singh said.

China does not accept the customary and traditional alignment of the boundary with India.

We believe that this alignment is based on well-established geographical principles confirmed by treaties and agreements, as well as historical usage and practice, well-known for centuries to both sides,” Singh said.

Both India and China have formally agreed that the boundary question is a complex issue which requires patience. Therefore, in order to ensure peace and tranquillity in the border areas, especially along the LAC, the two countries have concluded a number of agreements and protocols.

“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 for the positive direction of our ties,” Singh said.

Since April, India had noticed a buildup of troops and armaments by the Chinese side in the border areas adjacent to eastern Ladakh.

“In early May, the Chinese side had taken action to hinder the normal, traditional patrolling pattern of our troops in the Galwan Valley area, which resulted in a face-off,” Rajnath said.

Even as this situation was being addressed by the Ground Commanders as per the provisions of our bilateral agreements and protocol, in mid-May the Chinese side made several attempts to transgress the LAC in other parts of the western sector, he said.

This included Kongka La, Gogra and North Bank of Pangong Lake.

“These attempts were detected early and consequently responded to appropriately by our armed forces,” said the minister. “We made it clear to the Chinese side both through diplomatic and military channels that China was, by such actions, attempting to unilaterally alter the status quo. It was categorically conveyed that this was unacceptable.”

He said 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,” the minister said.

“In these discussions, India has maintained the three key principles that determine our approach that is 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 much be fully abided by in their entirety.”

The Chinese side, on its part, took the position that the situation should be handled in a responsible manner and ensure peace and tranquillity as per bilateral agreements and protocol.

Even as these discussions were going on, the Chinese side again engaged in provocative military maneuvers on the night of August 29 and August 30 in an attempt to change the status quo in the South Bank area of Pangong Lake, he said, but “yet again, timely and firm actions by our armed forces along the LAC prevented such attempts from succeeding.”

“As is clear from these events, the Chinese actions reflect a disregard of our various bilateral agreements,” the minister said.

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