India has never accepted so-called unilaterally defined 1959 Line of Actual Control: MEA
Even as New Delhi on Tuesday rejected Beijing's move to legitimise its 1959 claim-line as the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two nations in the western sector, the communist country continued to take a maximalist position, stating that it did not recognise Ladakh as a Union Territory of India.
Though both sides are in touch to schedule the next rounds of talks between senior military commanders and the diplomats to resolve the stand-off along the LAC, China on Tuesday accused India of 'illegally' creating its Union Territory of Ladakh. Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Chinese Government, said that Beijing also opposed New Delhi's move to build military infrastructure near India-China LAC in eastern Ladakh.
China had joined Pakistan to oppose India's August 5, 2019 move to strip the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) of its special status and reorganise in into two Union Territories - Ladakh and J&K.
Beijing's latest statement to question the status of the Union Territory of Ladakh of India, however, came even as New Delhi rejected the Chinese Government's move to unilaterally define the LAC as the line mentioned in the letter Premier Zhou Enlai of the communist country had written to the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, on November 7, 1959 - three years before the two nations had a military conflict.
New Delhi had never accepted Zhou's definition of the LAC. Nehru had publicly rejected it in 1963. The subsequent governments in New Delhi also consistently rejected the Chinese Government's definition of the LAC.
'India has never accepted the so-called unilaterally defined 1959 LAC. This position has been consistent and well known, including to China,' Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said in New Delhi.
When Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao had visited Beijing and met Chinese Premier Li Peng in September 1993, the two sides had inked the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China Border Areas. It had for the first time officially recognised the LAC. New Delhi, however, subsequently maintained that the LAC mention in the 1993 agreement was not the same as the line referred to in Zhou's November 1959 letter to Nehru.
Srivastava on Tuesday pointed out that China had rather joined India to commit in the bilateral agreements inked in 1993, 1996 and 2005 'to clarification and confirmation of the LAC' in order to reach 'a common understanding of the alignment' of the line.
The two sides had engaged in an exercise to clarify and confirm the LAC, but the process could not proceed after 2003 as the Chinese Government dragged its feet.
New Delhi pointed out that China's recent insistence on accepting only one unilaterally defined line as the real LAC was 'contrary to the solemn commitments' made by the communist country in the agreements with India.
The MEA spokesperson said that India had always respected and abided by its LAC with China. He, however, quoted Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stating in Parliament recently that China had sought to unilaterally alter the status quo by making attempts to transgress its LAC with India in eastern Ladakh. He reminded China that it had reiterated its commitment to abide by the existing agreements with India during bilateral engagements over the past few months.
Though almost five months passed since the stand-off between the Indian Army and the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) started in late April and early May, the two sides could not yet resolve it. They, however, agreed on September 21 to stop sending more troops to the face-off points on the LAC. They, however, could not end the stalemate over withdrawal of large numbers of troops the two sides already deployed since the stand-off started.
Srivastava said that New Delhi would expect Beijing to sincerely and faithfully abide by all agreements and understandings in entirety and refrain from advancing an untenable unilateral interpretation of the LAC.
The stand-off brought India-China relations to a new low, particularly after the June 15 clash along the LAC in Galwan Valley. The Indian Army lost 20 of its soldiers in the violent face-off. The Chinese PLA too had suffered casualties but never made public the number of its soldiers injured or killed in the clash.