New Delhi: Blaming China for the situation over the last four months in the Ladakh sector that was a “direct result” of China trying to unilaterally change the status quo at the Line of Actual Control, India on Thursday clearly said the “way ahead” was “negotiations” through both military and diplomatic channels. New Delhi added it was “firmly committed” to a “peaceful dialogue” and urged China to “sincerely engage” India to restore peace and tranquillity at the LAC.
New Delhi also made it clear that Beijing “should not take any provocative action or escalate matters”, which comes after the latest round of Chinese military actions at Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh both on the night of August 29 and on August 31.
In an escalation of the war of words, the Chinese embassy in New Delhi said in a statement that it was “seriously concerned” over and “firmly opposed” the Indian government’s decision on Wednesday to block 118 mobile apps (on the grounds of being prejudicial to India’s security), saying these “national security” grounds were an “excuse” and it “urges the Indian government to rectify the discriminatory practices violating World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules”. Beijing said “suppression, self-seclusion and restrictions cannot benefit one country’s development”, and told New Delhi to “return to the right path of win-win cooperation”.
New Delhi, however, remained firm on its decision, and the external affairs ministry said Thursday that companies needed to follow Indian laws. Observers see India’s decision as another instance of New Delhi seeking to impose economic costs on Beijing for the Chinese military provocations in the Ladakh sector.
The MEA also confirmed that defence minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Moscow for a defence ministers’ meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation member countries would include a bilateral meeting with the Russian defence minister, but that there was “no information” on any similar meeting with the Chinese defence minister, which is seen as another snub to Beijing.
The MEA also confirmed that external affairs minister S. Jaishankar would also travel to Moscow for a SCO foreign ministers’ meeting on September 10. All eyes are on that visit to see if Mr Jaishankar would meet his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi or not.
In yet another signal to Beijing, the MEA also said India looked forward to hosting a meeting of the four-nation “Quadrilateral” -- comprising India, the United States, Japan and Australia -- that focuses on the maintenance of a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region. The MEA added a meeting of the 2+2 bilateral dialogue at the foreign and defence ministers’ level with the United States would also be held.
But it was New Delhi’s firm message on Thursday on developments in Ladakh that are being seen as an indication of the Indian government’s resolve to continue to hold firm. In a statement at his weekly briefing on Thursday evening, MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava said: “I can say that the ground commanders are still holding discussions to resolve the situation. We reiterate the consensus reached between the two foreign ministers and special representatives that the situation at the border should be handled in a responsible manner and either side should not take any provocative action or escalate matters.”
The MEA spokesman added: “It is clear that the situation we witnessed over the past four months is a direct result of the actions taken by the Chinese side that sought to effect unilateral change of status quo. These actions resulted in violation of the bilateral agreements and protocol which ensured peace and tranquility in the border areas for close to three decades. Now the way ahead is negotiations, both through the diplomatic and military channels. The Indian side is firmly committed to resolving all outstanding issues through peaceful dialogue.”
The MEA added: “We strongly urge the Chinese side to sincerely engage the Indian side with the objective of expeditiously restoring peace and tranquility in the border areas through complete disengagement and de-escalation in accordance with bilateral agreements and protocols....