India and China agree on border de-escalation as their foreign ministers spoke on the phone on Wednesday and agreed to abide by existing bilateral agreements to ensure peace and tranquillity on their disputed Himalayan border. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers in border skirmishes with the Chinese military will “not be in vain,” and vowed a response if there is further provocation.
“I would like to assure the country that the sacrifice of our soldiers will not be in vain. For us, the unity and integrity of the country is the most important… India wants peace but is capable of giving a reply if provoked,” Modi said in a televised address Wednesday.
I would like to assure the nation that the sacrifice of our jawans will not be in vain. For us, the unity and sovereignty of the country is the most important…India wants peace but it is capable to give a befitting reply if instigated: PM Narendra Modi #IndiaChinaFaceOff pic.twitter.com/kFIC3F1fE4
— ANI (@ANI) June 17, 2020
India-China scuffle at Ladakh: the incident
An Indian army officer based in the region said that there had been no shooting, and that the officer killed had been a colonel.
“There was no firing. No firearms were used. It was violent hand-to-hand scuffles,” the officer said on condition of anonymity.
China had accused Indian soldiers of crossing the Line of Actual Control, in a bid to drive the Chinese out of the disputed region, which is controlled by China but claimed by India.
China called on India not to take unilateral actions or stir up trouble, it was reported.
Read more: Ladakh border confrontation: Chinese media plays down incident
Chinese side didn’t release number of PLA casualties in clash with Indian soldiers. My understanding is the Chinese side doesn’t want people of the two countries to compare the casualties number so to avoid stoking public mood. This is goodwill from Beijing.
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) June 16, 2020
The Chinese nationalist tabloid Global Times reported the number of deaths on the Indian side, but said China had not released information about casualties. The editor of the Global Times said on Twitter that the death toll was not released because China did not want the people of both nations to start comparisons, at a time when both countries find themselves ravaged by the coronavirus.
India and China agree on de-escalation: Modi vows revenge for slain
The PM’s comments came after deadly skirmishes in the mountainous Galwan Valley, a disputed region near Kashmir that is claimed by both China and India as sovereign territory.
Shortly after Modi’s comments the Chinese foreign ministry said that it has agreed with India to de-escalate the situation as soon as possible.
The ministry said in a statement that senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi told Indian Foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Wednesday that India should severely punish those responsible for the conflict and control its frontline troops.
Read more: Repercussions of tensions between India and China for Asia
A two-minute silence was observed during a Wednesday security briefing held between Modi and his chief ministers to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers.
“The whole country is with the families of those who sacrificed their lives for the country. India will defend every stone, every inch of its territory. India is a peace-loving country which has always tried to maintain cooperative and friendly relations with neighbors,” the prime minister said.
India and China agree on de-escalation as toll remains hazy
The troops were reportedly “exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high-altitude terrain” and succumbed to their wounds. Indian media claimed as many as 43 Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers were killed, but this figure has not been confirmed by Beijing.
Modi has called an all-party meeting on Friday at 5pm to discuss the Galwan Valley situation.
According to the Indian side, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi “agreed that the overall situation would be handled in a responsible manner, and both sides would implement the disengagement understanding of 6 June sincerely.”
Read more: India’s irresponsible government is adding fuel to Ladakh fire: Dr. Moeed Pirzada
The Indian statement further said that neither side would take any action to escalate matters and instead, ensure peace and tranquillity as per bilateral agreements and protocols.
A summary of the conversation from the Chinese side said the phone call would help ease the situation. “While they expressed their stance, they also set the tone for easing the situation, which will direct public opinion in their own countries,” a paper linked to China’s ruling Communist party said.
India and China continue blame game even as they agree on talks
The paper added some angry comments, however, as did the official statement from the Indian side. “The Indian side especially must fulfill its promise and implement the consensus reached between the two countries. The border issue is the most sensitive part of China-India relations. Only when it is eased can the two engage in cooperation in a composed manner,” said the Global Times.
“The latest clash at Galwan Valley is regrettable,” the Chinese newspaper said. “How to avoid the repeated occurrence of such conflicts and prevent the situation from escalating has become the biggest test to China-India relations.”
Read more: India at loss as Indo-Pacific strategy collapses
It quoted Mr Wang as holding the Indian side responsible for intentionally provoking and starting the violent attack. “It is hoped that India does not indulge in its sentiment, but understands the stance of the Chinese side.”
The Global Times newspaper cited existing agreements between India and China to back up its claim. “Resorting to this mechanism and improving on it rather than destroying it is the only way out for the two to address frictions. The Indian side should never think about pushing China to make concessions, because China won’t. Moreover, China’s countermeasures will never be late no matter the cost.”
Watch Dr. Mooed Pirzada dissect the ongoing tensions between China and India, focusing on Modi’s reaction and analyse what it means for the future of the region:
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