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By Saradha | Jun 17, 2020 11:12 AM

Following the death of 20 soldiers in a clash with Chinese troops at Galwan Valley in Ladakh on Monday night, the foreign Ministry told the media on Tuesday that "A violent face-off happened as a result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there".

Death of 20 soldiers in Ladakh! Problem in India-China Border?

Colonel B.Santosh Babu, Havildar Palani and Sepoy Ojha were the soldiers who got killed during the clashes. An unarmed combat broke out and continued for several hours after the colonel was attacked and Indian soldiers started retaliating. 

"On the late-evening and night of 15th June, 2020 a violent face-off happened as a result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there. Both sides suffered casualties that could have been avoided had the agreement at the higher level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.

According to the spokesperson’s statement, India and China has been holding discussions through military and diplomatic channels regarding de-escalation of the forces in the border area in Eastern Ladakh. The spokesperson also stated that the meeting on June 6 was successfully since they agreed for the de-escalation. 

"While it was our expectation that this would unfold smoothly, the Chinese side departed from the consensus to respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley," said the foreign ministry.

"Given its responsible approach to border management, India is very clear that all its activities are always within the Indian side of the LAC. We expect the same of the Chinese side.  We remain firmly convinced of the need for the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas and the resolution of differences through dialogue. At the same time, we are also strongly committed to ensuring India's sovereignty and territorial integrity," it said in the statement.

What do Experts Think?

The Chinese government’s silence over the issue has given rise to speculations and insinuations about China’s intent behind the move. While there are no definitive answers from China, Hindustan Times collated statements given by experts on the issue.

According to Rajiv Bhatia, Former Ambassador, “China’s recent intrusions aim to serve three purposes: First, to stop or slow down India’s border infrastructure development, second, to restrict New Delhi to South Asia, thus reducing its ambitions for a global role, and three, to weaken the traction the Quad partnership has been gaining of late. Kathmandu and Islamabad are happy to lend a helping hand to Beijing on the second objective mentioned above. Our response has to be firm and resolute.”

However, Nithin Pai, director of The Takshashila Institution, an independent Think tank states that applying pressure on India’s political leadership and depriving the Indian government and putting them in the back foot by not giving access to information might have been China’s intent.

Whereas Christopher Clary, assistant professor of Political science at the University of New York thinks that China might have taken the step-in order to secure its territorial claims.

“China has a set of fuzzy claims all along its boundary with India, and the American scholar M Taylor Fravel has found that China historically has escalated militarily when it perceives steps taken by others erode the likelihood of China ever securing its territorial claims. In this case, Indian road- and bridge-building in the area, especially combined with Ladakh’s change to union territory status, may have led China to conclude a sharp signal might be necessary to arrest developments weakening its hold on disputed areas in eastern Ladakh.”

Image Courtesy: India Today

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