China’s attempts to alter status quo on LAC affected bilateral relationship: MEA.

China has “continued unilateral attempts” to alter the status quo on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) even after agreeing to resolve issues in eastern Ladakh through peaceful dialogue, resulting in a relationship that is “complex”, the external affairs ministry has said in its annual report.

The attempts to change the status quo on the LAC since April-May 2020 have disturbed peace and tranquillity in border areas and India’s armed forces have given an “appropriate response” to all such Chinese efforts, the ministry said in its report for 2022. External affairs minister S Jaishankar has “conveyed to his counterpart that restoration of normalcy will require a restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas”.

The Chinese side’s “continued unilateral attempts” to change the status quo even after both countries agreed to resolve issues along the LAC in eastern Ladakh through dialogue has impacted the bilateral relationship, according to the report.

“India’s engagement with China is complex. The two sides agreed that pending the final settlement of the boundary question, maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas is essential for the overall development of the bilateral relationship,” the report said.

Relations between India and China have been at their lowest point in six decades since the start of a military standoff in Ladakh sector in May 2020 and the brutal clash at Galwan Valley in June 2020, which resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops.

The two sides, which have deployed more than 50,000 troops each in the Ladakh sector, pulled back frontline troops from both banks of Pangong Lake, Gogra and Hot Springs following more than two dozen rounds of diplomatic and military talks. However, they have been unable to reach an understanding on other friction points such as Depsang and Demchok, with the Chinese side insisting that the border row be put in its “appropriate” place while the two sides take forward ties in other sectors.

The report reiterated much that has been conveyed by the Indian side to China’s leadership since the start of the standoff almost three years ago, such as the suggestion that the bilateral relationship is “best served by observing the three mutuals – mutual respect, mutual sensitivity, and mutual interests”.

The report also provided the background of the face-off, stating that from April-May 2020, the Chinese side “undertook several attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo” along the LAC in Ladakh sector, which “seriously disturbed the peace and tranquillity” in the region and “impacted the development of the relationship”.

China’s attempts to change the status quo were “invariably met with an appropriate response” from India’s armed forces. Though both sides agreed to resolve issues along the LAC in Ladakh through peaceful dialogue, and discussions continued with China to achieve complete disengagement at all friction points, the Chinese side persisted with efforts to change the status quo.

“However, the continued unilateral attempts by China to change the status quo have impacted the bilateral relationship since then,” the report said.

The talks resulted in disengagement at Pangong Lake in February 2021, Gogra area in August 2021, and Hot Springs in September 2022.

Jaishankar met then-Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi during his visit to India in March 2022 and exchanged views on the border situation. Jaishankar conveyed to Wang that “restoration of normalcy will require a restoration of peace and tranquillity”. The two leaders also met in Bali on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in July 2022, when Jaishankar again called for the early resolution of all outstanding issues along the LAC in Ladakh.

The diplomatic and military talks have facilitated a “candid and in-depth” exchange of views on the situation along the LAC, and the two sides have agreed to continue these discussions to resolve the remaining issues at the earliest. India also continues to engage with China on multilateral platforms such as BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and G20.

Source- Hindustan Times.

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