China and India agree to reduce tensions a week after clashes on their disputed Himalayan border left 20 Indian soldiers dead in brutal hand-to-hand fighting - the deadliest in 45 years. After talks between the top regional military commanders held on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian says both sides agree to take necessary measures to promote a cooling of the situation. “The holding of this meeting shows that both sides want to deal with their disagreement, manage the situation and de-escalate the situation through dialogue and consultations," Zhao says.
A week after the Chinese aggression led to the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in a face-off in Ladakh, India on Tuesday subtly nudged China, saying that the leaders of the world must be exemplars on all fronts.
In a first on-screen face-to-face virtual meeting with his counterparts in China and Russia, Minister of External Affairs, S. Jaishankar said: “The leading voices of the world must be exemplars in every way. Respecting international law, recognising legitimate interest of partners, supporting multilateralism and promoting common good is the only way to build a durable world order.”
Jaishankar was speaking at the trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting among Russia, India and China (RIC), hosted by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. Though the meeting has been called to mark the 75th anniversary of the conclusion of the World War II and the victory of allies over the Nazi Germany, the RIC is considered to be a platform for strategic communication during crisis among the three countries. Moscow, which shares a great rapport with the Chinese Communist Party regime, is broadly seen as a mediator between New Delhi and Beijing.
The trilateral meeting follows the recently held hostile phone conversation between Jaishankar and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi over the violent face-off initiated by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh’s Galwan valley.
“This special meeting reiterates our belief in the time-tested principles of international relation,” Jaishankar said in his opening remarks. “But the challenge today is not just one of concepts and norms, but equally of their practice,” he added.
Recalling history, Jaishankar said the victory over Nazism and Fascism was achieved through sacrifices across many theatres by many countries including India which made a significant contribution, with 2.3 million of its citizens under arms and 14 million more participating in war production.
Indian blood was shed at the battlefields of the world, from Tobruk, El Alamein and Montecassino, to Singapore, Kohima and Borneo. The minister said India helped keep key supply lines open to both Russia and China, one through the Persian corridor and the other over the Himalayan hump. If Indian personnel were conferred the Order of the Red Star, the medical mission led by Dr.Kotnis was a legend in China. “So tomorrow, when our military contingent marches through the Red Square, it would be an affirmation of the difference that we made,” the minister said.
When the victors met to fashion the ensuing global order, the political circumstances of that era did not give India due recognition. This historical injustice has stood uncorrected for the last 75 years, even as the world has changed, the minister said. “Therefore, on this momentous occasion, it is important for the world to realize both the contribution that India made and the need to rectify the past,” he added,
The External Affairs Minister reiterated the need for reforms in international institutions. “The United Nations began with 50 members; today it has 193. Surely, its decision making cannot continue to be in denial of this fact. We, the RIC countries, have been active participants in shaping the global agenda. It is India’s hope that we will also now converge on the value of reformed multilateralism,” he said.
The three RIC ministers are likely to discuss the current global situation due to the coronavirus pandemic and other challenges and the possibility of the RIC cooperation in overcoming them.
After 11-hour-long Corps Commander level talks between India and China, government sources on Tuesday said that the dialogue was held in a cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere and there was a “mutual consensus to disengage”.
“Modalities for disengagement from all friction areas in Eastern Ladakh were discussed,” government sources added.
The corps commanders of two countries’ military met at Moldo on Monday to resolve the border issue and ease tension in Eastern Ladakh. This is the second such meeting after the first one on June 6 to defuse the tensions in Eastern Ladakh.
The meeting between 14 Corps commander Lieutenant General Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin happened on the lines of the one they held at the Chushul-Moldo border personnel meeting (BPM) point in eastern Ladakh on June 6.
Before this, Major General level dialogue took place for three consecutive days after the barbaric attack at patrolling point 14 in Galwan Valley on June 15 night where 20 Indian soldiers were killed. The three talks were to ease out the tense situation and to get released 10 Indian soldiers, including four officers, who were in Chinese captivity.
Major General Abhijit Bapat, who is the Commander of the 3 Division of the Indian Army, had raised several points with the Chinese with regard to the incident on the night intervening June 15-16.
The clash occurred at the South bank of Galwan river, which flows in an east-west direction before its confluence with Shayok river, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
It is the first casualties faced by Indian Army in a clash with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army since 1975 when an Indian patrol was ambushed by Chinese troops in Arunachal Pradesh.
Sources said Indian Army troopers were outnumbered by 1:5 ratio when they came under attack from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers at patrolling point number 14 on the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh.
China’s PLA troopers “savagely attacked” Indian Army personnel, according to sources in the government with knowledge of the details of the June 15-16 night clashes between the two army soldiers.
“The numbers were stacked up against the Indian Army troopers. Yet, the Indian side decided to fight the PLA troopers. The Indian soldiers were outnumbered 1:5 by the Chinese troopers,” the sources said on Wednesday.
China is also said to have used thermal imaging drones to trace the Indian Army soldiers scattered on the treacherous terrain before brutally attacking them.
“It was the deadliest attack carried on Indian Army personnel by the Chinese military personnel to our memory,” the government sources said.
Indian Army said the soldiers went to the spot where the clashes happened without any animosity and were displaying friendly gestures to the Chinese side when they were there to check if the de-escalation agreement was being followed as promised.
Several Indian Army soldiers are currently “critically injured” and are undergoing treatment. (IANS)