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China speaks in two voices on Pangong clash

China on Tuesday gave different responses to the clashes on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on the night of August 30.

The Chinese mission here accused India of having “grossly violated China’s territorial sovereignty, seriously violated relevant agreements, protocols and important consensus reached between the two countries, and severely damaged peace and tranquillity along the China-India border areas”.

In a statement on Tuesday, Chinese embassy spokesperson Ji Rong accused Indian troops of turning their backs on the consensus reached in several rounds of diplomatic- and military-level talks. She specifically complained of Indian troop activity “across the LAC” at the southern bank of the Pangong Tso Lake and near the Reqin Pass. These, the statement said, were “flagrant provocations, which again stirred tension in the border areas’’.

In a reflection of the bellicose Chinese Ministry of Defence statement on Monday, she said India’s actions were counter to the efforts to ease and cool down the situation on the ground. As a result, China has delivered a demarche to India to “strictly control and restrain its frontline troops” and immediately withdraw its troops illegally trespassing the LAC.

But in Europe, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said there were bound to be some problems because the India-China boundary is yet to be demarcated.

“China-India relations have recently attracted the attention of all parties. The boundary between China and India has not yet been demarcated, so there will always be problems of this kind. We are ready to manage all kinds of issues through dialogue with the Indian side,’’ he said in Paris at an interaction with French strategic experts at the French Institute of International Relations.

“Differences should be managed and controlled, and in particular, differences should not escalate into conflicts. I think that various departments of the two countries should implement the important consensus,’’ he added.

The Indian Army in a statement on Monday said it thwarted a provocative Chinese army movement in eastern Ladakh to change the status quo on the southern bank of Pangong Lake. This was the first major incident after the Galwan Valley clashes on June 1.

India has also taken a similar approach as the Chinese of blowing hot and cold on the LAC conflict. Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat has said the military option is on the table if talks fail to yield results. On the other hand, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar on Monday spoke of achieving some sort of an equilibrium in ties with China and, a couple of days after Gen Rawat’s statement, had said no border dispute had been solved by military action.