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Saturday, July 04, 2020

India-China border news highlights: Major-General level talks end on inconclusive note

In the worst flare-up on the LAC in more than five decades, 20 Indian Army personnel were killed Monday night in a violent face-off with Chinese troops in the Galwan valley.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 18, 2020 8:51:20 am
india china, india china border, india china ladakh, india china border face off, india china face off, india china border face off latest news, india china ladakh latest news, india china latest news Indian army soldiers rest next to artillery guns at a makeshift transit camp before heading to Ladakh, near Baltal, southeast of Srinagar, June 16, 2020. (Reuters Photo/File)

The Major General-level talks between India and China in the wake of the violent faceoff in Ladakh’s Galwan valley ended on an inconclusive note on Wednesday. This was the second meeting between GOC 3 Division and his Chinese counterpart at PP14 on the Line of Actual Control.

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The latest development comes even as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, in a phone conversation earlier today, “agreed that the overall situation would be handled in a responsible manner, and both sides would implement the disengagement understanding of 6 June sincerely”. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in a statement, said, “Neither side would take any action to escalate matters and instead, ensure peace and tranquillity as per bilateral agreements and protocols.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meanwhile, said the sacrifices of soldiers along the border “will not go in vain”. He has called for an all-party meeting at 5 pm on Friday, June 19 to discuss the situation along the India-China border. Presidents of various political parties are expected to take part in the virtual meeting.

Live Blog

20 Armymen killed fighting back China in Ladakh's Galwan area, along the LAC; Foreign ministers hold talks. Read highlights in Tamil, Malayalam and Bangla

05:31 (IST)18 Jun 2020
Maj Gen (Dr) G G Dwivedi: ‘Right now, Chinese have an edge, we must neutralise it’

Maj Gen (Dr) G G Dwivedi, who commanded a Jat battalion in this sector in 1992, and was subsequently the defence attaché to China in 1997, told The Indian Express over the phone that he is not surprised by the recent Chinese belligerence. “It is part of China’s ‘nibble and negotiate policy’. Their grand aim is to ensure that India does not build infrastructure along the LAC, change the status of Ladakh, cosy up to the US and join the anti-China chorus caused by Covid-19. It is their way of attaining a political goal with military might, while gaining more territory in the process.’’

Negotiations depend on how strong you are on the ground. “Right now, the Chinese have an edge, we must neutralise it. We must either push them back or occupy some other place that affects them,” said Dwivedi.

READ MORE HERE

02:41 (IST)18 Jun 2020
US, UK, Russia respond cautiously to the clashes at the India-China border

A day after the killing of 20 Indian Army personnel in clashes with the Chinese army was announced by the Indian government, key members of the global community — US, UK, Russia and the EU — responded cautiously to the clashes at the India-China border. While the US said it supported a “peaceful resolution of the current situation”, Russia “welcomed steps aimed at de-escalation” and remained “optimistic”, the UK “encouraged China and India to engage in dialogue” and the EU “encouraged both sides to show restraint and to engage in military de-escalation”. There was no condemnation of the killing of 20 Indian soldiers by any of the countries.

READ MORE HERE

01:53 (IST)18 Jun 2020
Communication with villages close to clash site ‘cut off’, says top Ladakh official

Villages close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) where the confrontation between the Indian and Chinese soldiers took place are “completely cut off from communication”, the Chief Executive Councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) told The Indian Express on Wednesday.

The authorities “have not been able to reach local councillors there as well,” Gyal P Wangyal said. The LAHDC, Leh, is the key governing body of the Ladakh region.

01:20 (IST)18 Jun 2020
Making exaggerated claims contrary to this understanding: India on China's statement

India late on Wednesday reacted on the statement by the Chinese side that the sovereignty of the Galwan valley area belongs to China. "Making exaggerated and untenable claims is contrary to this understanding," a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs read with reference to its earlier statement on both sides agreeing to handle the situation "in a responsible manner".

In response to a query on the statement by the Chinese side that the sovereignty of the Galvan valley area belongs to China, the Official Spokesperson Mr. Anurag Srivastava said,

" As we have conveyed earlier today External Affairs Minister and the State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China had a phone conversation on recent developments in Ladakh. Both sides have agreed that the overall situation should be handled in a responsible manner and that the understandings reached between Senior Commanders on 6th June should be implemented sincerely. Making exaggerated and untenable claims is contrary to this understanding."

23:56 (IST)17 Jun 2020
ICYMI: Top developments on India-China faceoff, a day after Galwan

#A fresh round of talks Wednesday at the level of Major Generals after Monday’s violent faceoff between Indian and Chinese soldiers failed to break the deadlock between the two sides, with the meeting ending on an inconclusive note.

#In his first public remark on the violent clashes between Indian and Chinese forces in Galwan Valley, in which 20 military personnel were killed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday said India wants peace but will respond appropriately if provoked. He said the sacrifice of the Indian soldiers will not go in vain.

# Foreign Ministers of India and China spoke for the first time after the clashes Monday night.

#The day began with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh sharing his thoughts publicly for the first time since the violent clashes. Singh mourned the loss of soldiers, and said the country will never forget their sacrifice. 

#The series of meetings between the political and military leadership continued with Singh getting briefed about the ground situation by the military top brass once again.

# Congress president Sonia Gandhi posed several hard questions to the BJP government and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tell the country how China was able to occupy Indian territory.

READ MORE HERE

22:40 (IST)17 Jun 2020
Conscience of nation has been 'bruised': Ex-President Pranab Mukherjee

Stating that the conscience of the nation has been "bruised", former president Pranab Mukherjee said it needs to be addressed satisfactorily by the entire political class through a bipartisan consensus. "The onus of achieving which lies mostly on the Government of India, by taking various stakeholders, including the Armed Forces on board. It is for the Government of the Day, to ensure that nothing but our National Interests are kept supreme," he said. The former president also offered his condolences on the supreme sacrifice made by the Army personnel.

21:22 (IST)17 Jun 2020
Major-General level talks fail to break deadlock

A fresh round of talks Wednesday at the level of Major Generals after Monday’s violent faceoff between Indian and Chinese soldiers failed to break the deadlock between the two sides, with the meeting ending on an inconclusive note. This was the second meeting in two days between GOC 3 Division and his Chinese counterpart at PP14 on the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Tuesday’s meeting had resulted in bringing down tensions in the area which had been running high following the violent faceoff which led to the death of 20 soldiers. Read more here

21:19 (IST)17 Jun 2020
Family members pay last respects to Col. Santosh Babu

Family members and officials pay their last respects to Colonel Santosh Babu at the Hakimpet Air Force Station in Telangana. Babu, the Commanding Officer of 16 Bihar, was one of the 20 Army personnel killed in a clash with Chinese troops in the Galwan valley of Ladakh. Read more here

20:18 (IST)17 Jun 2020
Can the situation escalate hereon?

Our deputy editor Sushant Singh explains 👇

As the two countries are still talking at military and diplomatic levels, any escalation into a major conflict looks some distance away at this moment.

But conflict situations have a dynamic of their own, and events can overtake the best laid plans. A military conflict, if it occurs, can be localised to one area, can be along the whole border, or can be in any one sector. But unless there is another provocation and crisis, the two sides should be able to resolve the situation peacefully.

That said, the government will place the armed forces on full alert, moving some of them forward for an early response in case of any eventuality.

Simultaneously, it will continue to use diplomatic channels to resolve the crisis, while controlling the domestic messaging to avoid inflaming public emotions that can create pressure on it to act strongly against China. The execution of that strategy will determine the course of the future action on China.

20:15 (IST)17 Jun 2020
So what does all this mean? What is the key takeaway?

Our deputy editor Sushant Singh explains 👇

There were hopes of an early disengagement and de-escalation after conciliatory statements from both countries in the past few days, after the meeting at the level of Corps Commander on June 6. There were meetings being held at the level of various other military commanders from June 10, which were to continue for 10 days, by when the disengagement process would have been decided and finalised.

But after this incident, that process is likely to take a back seat, and an early resolution now looks unlikely. China has reasserted its claim over Galwan Valley, and its army has made sharp statements alleging that Indian soldiers twice crossed the LAC.

The MEA too, has categorically stated that the Chinese had violated the LAC in the Galwan Valley region, which had led to the current situation. These allegations and counter-allegations, along with the heightened public sentiment on the deaths of so many soldiers, will test any process towards resolution. Read more here

20:13 (IST)17 Jun 2020
Tensions must then be high at the Ladakh border?

Our deputy editor Sushant Singh explains 👇

Yes, tensions have already been running high at various places on the Ladakh border where Indian and Chinese soldiers have been facing each other on the LAC since May. The latest incident has added to the tensions, but there have been no reports of any other clashes at the border. Read more here

20:12 (IST)17 Jun 2020
Has the situation now been defused at the site of the clash?

Our deputy editor Sushant Singh explains 👇

A meeting at the level of Major Generals of both armies took place at PP14 in the area on Tuesday, which continued until late in the evening. It brought the situation under control, and the Indian side was able to collect all the bodies. The Chinese were given permission to bring in helicopters to ferry their injured back. Read more here

20:11 (IST)17 Jun 2020
How many Chinese soldiers were killed or injured in the clash?

Our deputy editor Sushant Singh explains 👇

The official statements put out by the Army and the Ministry of External Affairs have no details of any deaths or injuries to Chinese soldiers, although the first statement by the Army on Tuesday was amended to say that there were casualties “on both sides”. The Chinese government or the PLA too, have not provided any details of soldiers killed or injured in the clash.

The only numbers that have come from are from the news agency ANI, which has quoted unnamed sources claiming that as per radio transmission intercepts, 43 Chinese soldiers were either killed or injured in the clash. Another report in usnews.com has cited “American intelligence” to say that 35 Chinese troops, including an officer, are believed to have died. Read more here

20:06 (IST)17 Jun 2020
If there were no shots fired, how did the soldiers die?

Our deputy editor Sushant Singh explains 👇

Since the time tensions have erupted on the Ladakh border, there have been reports of some scuffles between the soldiers of both the armies. At Pangong Tso on the intervening night of May 5/6, there was a major scuffle between the soldiers in which more than 70 Indian soldiers were injured. In most of these scuffles, the Chinese have used bats, clubs, sticks and stones to cause major injuries.

In Monday’s clash, besides the use of these blunt objects to cause injuries, some soldiers, it has been learnt, could have been pushed into the fast-flowing Galwan river. Most of the deaths were due to injuries aggravated by the intense cold in the high-altitude area. Read more here

20:05 (IST)17 Jun 2020
Were the Indian soldiers not carrying weapons?

Our deputy editor Sushant Singh explains 👇

No, this is as per the drill followed by both sides in the border areas to avoid inadvertent escalation by opening fire. This is in tune with the 1996 agreement between the two countries on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas, which imposed a lot of restrictions on military equipment, exercises, blasts, and aircraft in the vicinity of the LAC.

20:01 (IST)17 Jun 2020
What exactly happened in the Galwan Valley on Monday?

Our deputy editor Sushant Singh explains 👇

Tensions had been running high in the area for the past few weeks, with a large number of soldiers and military equipment deployed along the LAC by both sides. Even though the LAC in Galwan Valley was never disputed by the two sides, the Chinese had moved into the Indian side of the LAC. After the meeting at the level of Corps Commanders on June 6, negotiations had been conducted between local military commanders of both the armies for a mutually agreed disengagement process.

As part of that process, a buffer zone had been agreed to be created between the LAC and the junction of the Shyok and Galwan rivers to avoid any faceoff between the two armies. The two armies were to move back by a kilometre each in that area as a first step.

When Colonel B Santosh Babu, who was monitoring this process, noticed that a Chinese camp was still existing in the area, he went to get it removed. This soon led to fisticuffs and blows being exchanged, resulting in deaths and injuries. Read more here

19:54 (IST)17 Jun 2020
Galwan faceoff: No rounds were fired by either side. Isn’t that a good thing?

Our deputy editor Sushant Singh explains 👇

Not really.

If such a large number of soldiers could be killed without firing a round, it means that these deaths were far more brutal than they would have been had guns and rifles been used. However, that it remained restricted to a physical brawl points to the fact that there was no escalation to a kinetic level — rifles, howitzers, rockets, missiles, and fighter jets. China and India are both nuclear powers, and any climbing up the escalation ladder is fraught.

But it could be a hope hanging by a slender thread if the history between the two sides is any precedent to go by. Even at Nathu La, before the military engagement escalated to artillery guns and threats of fighter jets, there was a scuffle between the soldiers of the two armies on the border. Read more here




19:40 (IST)17 Jun 2020
Galwan face-off: Here's what we know so far

It has been nearly 24 hours that news of the violent clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh broke. Our deputy editor Sushant Singh explains what happened at Galwan? How serious is the issue? and What happens from here? 

Is the situation serious?

Yes, undoubtedly so. This is the first time after the 1962 War that soldiers have died in clashes on the India-China border in Ladakh. Even otherwise, the last deaths on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) were an ambush of an Assam Rifles patrol in Arunachal Pradesh by the Chinese in 1975. But the last real military engagement between the two armies was at Nathu La in Sikkim in 1967, in which 88 Indian soldiers lost their lives, and more than 300 Chinese soldiers were killed.

But all these incidents were prior to the two countries signing, starting from 1993, various agreements for maintaining peace and tranquility on the border.

Moreover, at least 20 soldiers including a Commanding Officer lost their lives on a single day in Galwan on Monday. To put that number in context, when 19 soldiers lost their lives in Uri in 2016, the Narendra Modi government launched surgical strikes across the Line of Control. Read more here

19:18 (IST)17 Jun 2020
Galwan Valley: Satellite pics taken on June 16

This satellite photo provided by Planet Labs shows the Galwan Valley area in the Ladakh region near the Line of Actual Control between India and China Tuesday, June 16, 2020. (AP/PTI Photo)
A satellite image taken over the Galwan Valley in Ladakh, June 16, 2020, in this handout obtained from Planet Labs Inc. (PLANET LABS INC/via REUTERS)
A satellite image taken over Galwan Valley in Ladakh, June 16, 2020, in this handout obtained from Planet Labs Inc. (PLANET LABS INC/via REUTERS)

18:53 (IST)17 Jun 2020
Army salutes supreme sacrifice of valiant soldiers in Galwan

The Army offered its deepest condolences to the bereaved families of soldiers killed in the violent face-off with Chinese troops in the Galwan valley of Ladakh. "We stand in our resolve towards protecting the sovereignty and integrity of our country. Their sacrifices will not go in vain," the Army tweeted.

india china border, india china news, indo china border, ladakh, LAC, galwan valleychina People stand by the banks of the Pangong Lake, near the India-China border in Ladakh. (AP Photo: Channi Anand)

In the first loss of lives on the disputed India-China border in at least 45 years, the Army has lost one officer and two soldiers in a violent faceoff in the Galwan Valley last night.

“During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place yesterday night (Monday night) with casualties on both sides,” Army said in an official statement.

“The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers,” it added. The statement also said that “senior military officials of the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation”.

Tensions between the two armies have been running high on the border since reports of a scuffle between the soldiers of both sides at Pangong Tso (eastern Ladakh) and Naku la (in Sikkim) came in early last month. Both the armies have since mobilized and deployed a large number of soldiers and heavy military equipment along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The last deaths on the India-China border were in 1975 when an Indian patrol was ambushed by the Chinese soldiers on the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh. A violent clash between the two sides on the border had taken place at Nathu La in 1967.

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