Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today addressed the second day of the parliament on the border tension with China stating India is “very serious about issues of sovereignty” and the country is “prepared for all outcomes” to ensure that it is maintained.
The minsiiter said, “There is no commonly delineated Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the border areas between India and China and there is no common perception of the entire LAC. Therefore, in order to ensure peace and tranquility in the border areas, especially along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the two countries have concluded a number of agreements and protocols”.
The Key Highlights of Rajnath Singh’s Speech:
1. China does not accept the customary and traditional alignment of the boundary between India and China. We believe that this alignment is based on well-established geographical principles confirmed by treaties and agreements, as well as historical usage and practice, well-known for centuries to both sides. The Chinese position,however, is that the boundary between the two countries has not been formally delimited, that there exists a traditional customary line formed by the extent of jurisdiction that they claim was exercised historically by each side, and that the two sides have different interpretations of the position of the traditional customary line. The two countries had engaged in discussions during 1950s-60s but these efforts could not yield a mutually acceptable solution.
2. China continues to be in illegal occupation of approximately 38,000 sq. kms in the Union Territory of Ladakh. In addition, under the so-called Sino-Pakistan ‘Boundary Agreement’ of 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 sq. km. of Indian territory in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to China. China also claims approximately 90,000 sq. kms. of Indian territory in the Eastern Sector of the India-China boundary in Arunachal Pradesh.
3. Both India and China have formally agreed that the boundary question is a complex issue which requires patience and have committed to seeking a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution through dialogue and peaceful negotiations. In the interim, the two sides also agree that maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas is an essential basis for the further development of bilateral relations.
4. A key element of both the 1993 and the 1996 Agreements is that the two sides will keep their military forces in the areas along the Line of Actual Control to a minimum level. These agreements also mandate that pending an ultimate solution to the boundary question, the two sides shall strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control. Furthermore in these agreements, India and China also committed to clarification and confirmation of the Line of Actual Control to reach a common understanding of the alignment. Thus, in the late 1990s and up to 2003, the two sides engaged in an exercise to clarify and confirm the LAC. But, thereafter the Chinese side did not show a willingness to pursue the LAC clarification exercise. As a result, there are some areas where the Chinese and Indian perceptions of LAC overlap. In these areas, as also with other sections of the border areas, the various agreements govern the manner in which troops of both sides should operate and deal with situations of face-offs to maintain peace and tranquility.
5. While no one should doubt our determination to safeguard our borders, India believes that mutual respect and mutual sensitivity are the basis for peaceful relations with neighbours. As we want to resolve the current situation through dialogue, we have maintained diplomatic and military engagement with the Chinese side. In these discussions, we have maintained the three key principles that, determine our approach: (i) both sides should strictly respect and observe the LAC; (ii) neither side should attempt to alter the status quo unilaterally; and (iii) all agreements and understandings between the two sides much be fully abided by in their entirety. The Chinese side, on its part, took the position that the situation should be handled in a responsible manner and ensure peace and tranquility as per bilateral agreements and protocol.
6. As is clear from these events, the Chinese actions reflect a disregard of our various bilateral agreements. The amassing of the troops by China goes against the 1993 and 1996 Agreements. Respecting and strictly observing the Line of Actual Control is the basis for peace and tranquility in the border areas and explicitly recognized in both 1993 and 1996 agreements. While our armed forces abide scrupulously by it, this has not been reciprocated by the Chinese side. Their actions have led to face-offs and frictions from time to time along the LAC. As I mentioned earlier, the agreements have detailed procedures and norms to deal with the situation of face-offs. However, in the recent incidents, this year, the violent conduct of Chinese forces has been in complete violation of all mutually agreed norms.
7. As of now, the Chinese side has mobilized a large number of troops and armaments along the LAC as well as in the depth areas. There are several friction areas in Eastern Ladakh including Gogra, Kongka La and North and South Banks of the Pangong Lake. In response to China’s actions, our armed forces have also made appropriate counter deployments in these areas to ensure that India’s security interests are fully protected. The House should have full confidence that our armed forces will always rise to the challenge and do us all proud. This is still an ongoing situation and obviously involves sensitive operational issues.