Chinese troops attempted to unilaterally alter the status quo in violation of the bilateral agreements, the Central government said on Saturday after China stated that India is entirely responsible for the border stand-off in Ladakh.

India stated that both sides should focus on the overall situation of India-China relations and work together to de-escalate the situation as soon as possible, and maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met Chinese Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe on 4 September in Moscow on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting.

The two ministers had frank and in-depth discussions about the developments in the India-China border areas as well as on India-China relations.

Singh categorically conveyed India’s position on the developments along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) including in the Galwan valley in the Western Sector of the India-China border areas in the last few months.

He emphasised that the action of the Chinese troops, including amassing of large number of troops, aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo were in violation of the bilateral agreements, and not in keeping with the understandings reached between the Special Representatives of the two sides.

Singh stated clearly that while the Indian troops had always taken a very responsible approach towards border management, there should also be no doubt about their determination to protect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

During the meeting, the Chinese Defence Minister said both sides should scrupulously implement the consensus reached between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping and continue to solve the issues through dialogue and consultation, strictly follow the various bilateral agreements, strengthen the regulation of frontline troops and not undertake any provocative actions that might escalate the situation.

During the meeting, Gen Fenghe suggested that both sides should maintain communication at all levels including between the two ministers.

Singh said that both sides should take guidance from the consensus of the leaders that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas was essential for the further development of bilateral relations and that the two sides should not allow differences to become disputes.

Accordingly, the two sides should resolve the ongoing situation and outstanding issues in the border areas peacefully through dialogue.

The Chinese Defence Minister conveyed that the Chinese side too desired to resolve the issues peacefully.

Singh advised that it was important therefore that the Chinese should work with the Indian side for complete disengagement at the earliest from all friction areas including Pangong Lake as well as de-escalation in the border areas in accordance with the bilateral agreements and protocols on maintenance of peace and tranquillity, strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control and should not make attempts to unilaterally change the status quo.

He said that the current situation should be handled responsibly and that neither side should take any further action that could either complicate the situation or escalate matters in the border areas.

Singh conveyed that the two sides should continue their discussions, including through diplomatic and military channels, to ensure complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquillity along the LAC at the earliest. The Chinese government in a statement said that Gen Fenghe stated that relations between the two countries and the two militaries 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,” the Chinese government stated. It also pointed out that China’s territory cannot be lost, and the Chinese military is fully determined, capable, and confident to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Terming Friday’s meeting between Indian and Chinese Defence Ministers as a positive step, the Chinese media said on Saturday that in case of a border war, India will have no chance of winning.

In an editorial on Saturday, Global Times, which is closely aligned with the ruling Chinese Communist Party, said, “We must remind the Indian side that China’s national strength, including its military strength, is much stronger than India’s. Although China and India are both great powers, when it comes to the ultimate competition of combat capability, the Indian side will lose. If a border war starts, India will have no chance of winning.”

The editorial said, “We hope that the defence ministers’ meeting will be a turning point for the two countries to come back to the consensus of the leaders’ meeting. Each side will make its due effort to reduce tensions on the border.” It has supported the meeting of the Defence Ministers in Moscow on Friday.  However, it seemed to point to the fact that Indian policies on the border are being dictated by nationalism and public opinion.

Meanwhile, Rajnath Singh on Saturday met his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and deliberated on ways to give greater thrust to defence cooperation between India and the Central Asian countries.

In a tweet, the Defence Minister said he had a “productive” interaction with his Kazakh counterpart Lieutenant General Nurlan Yermekbayev and discussed ways to further boost bilateral defence cooperation.‘Chinese troops tried to unilaterally alter status’