Monday night’s violence between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley area came after repeated assurances from both sides recently that the situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was under control, and that they were working towards a peaceful resolution of the standoff that has now entered its seventh week.
Over the last 10 days, since the June 6 meeting between the Corps Commanders of the two armies, the Indian side has made six statements and comments, and the Chinese side three, saying the situation was improving, and that the countries were involved in continuous talks.
These statements were made by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the Ministry of External Affairs, and Army Chief General M M Naravane on the Indian side, and the Chinese foreign ministry.
On Sunday, Defence Minister Singh told a virtual rally for Jammu and Kashmir that “while China has expressed the desire to resolve the (LAC) issue through talks, our effort too is to find a solution to the trouble between China and India through talks at the military and diplomatic levels”.
He also said: “India is no longer a weak nation; its power has increased. But we do not want to use this strength to frighten anyone. It is only to secure our country… I can say with confidence that we will not do any sort of compromise with our national pride.”
Earlier, addressing a virtual rally for Maharashtra on June 8, the Minister had said: “We want the boundary dispute to be resolved soon. At the moment, talks between India and China are happening at the military and diplomatic levels.”
The June 6 meeting of the Corps Commanders “were very positive”, Singh said, and “both India and China have agreed that in the future too, the discussion will continue on the boundary dispute as well as the ongoing tussle”.
On June 13, the Army Chief spoke of phased disengagement and continuous dialogue.
“We have started from the north, from the area of the Galwan river, where a lot of disengagement has happened,” Gen Naravane said after the Passing out Parade at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
He would “not like to use the word retreated in any context, there is no retreat”, Gen Naravane said; rather, “the correct word would be disengagement, and both sides are disengaging in a phased manner.”
“Want to assure everyone that the entire situation along our border with China is under control,” he said. “(Talks) which started with the Corps Commander level talks… has been followed up by a number of meetings at the local level between commanders of equivalent ranks. As a result of this a lot of disengagement has taken place, and we are hopeful that through this continued dialogue that we are having, all perceived differences that we have will be set to rest.”
On June 11, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the Corps Commanders’ meeting “was in continuation of the diplomatic and military engagements which both sides have maintained”, and “it was agreed that an early resolution of the situation would be in keeping with the guidance of the leaders (Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping)”.
On June 7, in its first statement after the meeting of the Army commanders, the MEA had said that the two countries had “in recent weeks” maintained “communications through established diplomatic and military channels to address the situation in areas along the India-China border”. The meeting of the Army commanders “took place in a cordial and positive atmosphere”, in which “both sides agreed to peacefully resolve the situation… in accordance with various bilateral agreements and keeping in view the agreement between the leaders that peace and tranquility in the India-China border regions is essential for the overall development of bilateral relations”, the MEA said.
The two sides “will continue the military and diplomatic engagements to resolve the situation and to ensure peace and tranquility in the border areas,” it added.
Earlier, after joint-secretary-level discussions between the two governments on June 5, the MEA had said that India and China “should handle their differences through peaceful discussion bearing in mind the importance of respecting each other’s sensitivities, concerns and aspirations and not allow them to become disputes”. It had pointed to the consensus formed in Astana in June 2017.
China, too, has said that the two countries were in talks to resolve the boundary issue.
In her press conference on June 11, spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry Hua Chunying said: “China and India have conducted effective communication and reached agreement on properly handling the situation in the west section of the China-India boundary.” Both sides “are taking actions in line with the agreement to ameliorate the border situation”.
A day previously, Hua had said that “through diplomatic and military channels, China and India have recently had effective communication and reached agreement on properly handling the situation in the west section of the China-India boundary”.
On June 8, she had said that on June 6, Army commanders “had met to discuss ways to resolve matters related to the recent border situation and safeguard peace and stability in the border area”.
Also, she had said, “recently China and India have been in close communication through diplomatic and military channels regarding the border situation”.
Invoking the agreement reached between Modi and Xi, she had said: “Both sides agree to implement the important consensus of the two leaders, avoid escalation of differences into disputes, work together to uphold peace and tranquility in the border area, and create favourable atmosphere for the sound and stable development of bilateral relations. Currently the overall situation in the border area is stable and controllable. Both sides have the willingness and capability to properly resolve the related matters through negotiation and consultation.”