New Delhi: China taking a stand over the Line of Actual Control on Tuesday said, it does not recognise the Union Territory of Ladakh and declines the construction of Indian infrastructure there. New Delhi reacted saying it has “never accepted the so-called unilaterally defined 1959 Line of Actual Control”, and that it is “untenable”.
This exchange between the two sides comes a week after their military commanders met at the Moldo border point facing Chushul following the Moscow agreement between the Foreign Ministers to dial down tensions along the LAC.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, in response to a question on Indian road-building along the border, said China “does not recognize the so-called Union Territory of Ladakh by India, and “opposes infrastructure construction in disputed border areas for military control purposes”.
“According to the recent meeting between China and India, neither side should take any actions in border areas that would complicate the situation, so as not to affect the efforts of both sides to ease the situation,” Wang said, according to China state-run Global Times.
China had objected and made its reservations in the formation of Ladakh as Union Territory, saying this “undermined its territorial sovereignty”. Beijing had also expressed “serious concern” about the current situation in the region.
Meeting in Moscow, the two sides adopted a five-point approach to resolve the crisis and agreed that their troops will be kept on hold. However Beijing’s comments now are contrary as of the conversation between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on September 10.
In the statement in Mandarin, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, “Firstly, China-India border LAC is very clear, that is the LAC on November 7, 1959. China announced it in the 1950s, and the international community including India are also clear about it.”
On India side it has made clear- “India has never accepted the so-called unilaterally defined 1959 Line of Actual Control (LAC). This position has been consistent and well known, including to the Chinese side,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
In reference to the September 10 meeting in Moscow between the Foreign Ministers, Srivastava said the Chinese side reiterated its commitment to abide by all the existing agreements “We therefore expect that the Chinese side will sincerely and faithfully abide by all agreements and understandings in their entirety and refrain from advancing an untenable unilateral interpretation of the LAC,” he said.
The Indian response, sharp in tone and tenor, after the sixth round of Corps Commander-level talks, which was also attended by a senior Indian diplomat, signals that the two sides have hardened their positions diplomatically as well.
But Beijing’s latest remarks reflect a aggressive stance. Hopes of an early resolution of the Ladakh crisis are fast receding, and it appears that the two armies will have to keep their troops deployed in the region through the winter months.