New Delhi: Amid the ongoing military standoff with India along the Line of Action Control (LAC), China on Tuesday declared that it does not recognise the Union Territory of Ladakh and called it “illegally established” by India. A belligerent China also said it was opposed to India building military infrastructure in the border areas.
“China does not recognise the so-called union territory of Ladakh illegally established by India, and opposes infrastructure construction in disputed border areas for military control purposes,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said while commenting on India’s move to build roads along the border.
“According to the recent consensus reached between China and India, neither side should take any actions in border areas that would complicate the situation, so as not to affect the efforts of both sides to ease the situation,” Wang told reporters at a daily briefing.
BJP led government in Delhi separated Ladakh from Jammu and Kashmir and declared it as a Union Territory on August 5, last year. The bifurcation of Kashmir came into effect on October 31 (2019).
Wang did not address reports that China is increasing the building of roads and other infrastructure along its side of the border.
The standoff in Ladakh began in May and escalated in June to the deadliest violence between the two sides in decades – a clash on a high ridge in which soldiers used clubs, stones and their fists. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed and dozens of others were injured. China is believed to have also suffered casualties.
The rival countries have amassed tens of thousands of soldiers, backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets, in the Ladakh area since the deadly standoff.
After that clash, the two countries partially disengaged from the site in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley and at least two other places, but the crisis has continued in at least three other areas, including the glacial Pangong Lake.
In recent weeks, the world’s two most populous nations have accused each other of sending soldiers into each other’s territory in the Pangong area and firing warning shots for the first time in 45 years, raising the spectre of a full-scale military conflict.
The fiercely contested control line separates Chinese- and Indian-held territories from Ladakh in the west to India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety. It is broken in parts where the Himalayan nations of Nepal and Bhutan border China.
According to India, the de facto border is 3,488 kilometers (2,167 miles) long, while China says it is considerably shorter.
China had responded strongly in August, 2019, after New Delhi had stripped Jammu & Kashmir of its special status and bifurcated the state as two separate union territories of J&K and Ladakh.
“China has always opposed India’s inclusion of Chinese territory in India’s administrative jurisdiction in the western part of the Sino-Indian border. This position is firm, consistent and has never changed,” the foreign ministry had said in a statement at the time.
“In recent days, the Indian side has continued to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally amending its domestic laws. This practice is unacceptable and will not produce any effect,” the 2019 statement had said.
The fresh Chinese foreign ministry statement came on a day when Indian Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, said that the prevailing situation along the Line of Actual Control was “uneasy”. According to the IAF chief, a “no war, no peace” status was prevailing along the northern border amid the ongoing standoff in eastern Ladakh.
He, however, assured that the Indian armed forces were prepared for any eventuality and that the IAF was resolved to counter “any misadventure”.
“Present security scenario along our northern frontiers is at an uneasy — no war, no peace status… The recent induction of Rafales along with other aircraft has provided the IAF with substantial practical and strategic capability enhancement,” Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said.
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