‘You violated pacts and eroded ties,’ defence minister Rajnath Singh tells his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu

Team India Sentinels Thursday 27th of April 2023 11:51 AM

Rajnath Singh (2L) during talks with Li Shangfu (R). (Photo: Rajnath Singh/Twitter)

New Delhi: In talks during the first high-level military visit from China since the start of the Ladakh stand-off in April 2020, the defence minister, Rajnath Singh, curtly told his Chinese counterpart, Li Shangfu, that (China’s) violation of existing agreements has eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations between the two countries. Singh said improvement of bilateral ties between New Delhi and Beijing would only be possible when there is peace and tranquillity at the borders.

The talks between the defence leaders of the two countries took place on Thursday.

In a statement after the talks, the defence ministry said, “The two ministers had frank discussions about the developments in the India-China border areas as well as bilateral relations. He (Rajnath Singh) reiterated that violation of existing agreements has eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations and disengagement at the border will logically be followed with de-escalation.”

Read also: Report says ‘India lost 26 out of 65 patrolling points’ near LAC

According to a source in India’s defence establishment, Singh categorically told Li that military cooperation between the two countries can progress only if peace and tranquillity is established at the border, much of which is disputed and commonly referred to as the line of actual control (LAC). Singh said New Delhi desires to improve ties with Beijing, but it is only possible when there is peace and tranquillity at the border between the two countries.

It may be noted that since the June 2020 deadly Galwan clash in eastern Ladakh between Indian and Chinese soldiers, both countries deployed tens of thousands of troops and weapons within striking distance of the border and beyond. For nearly three years now, hundreds of troops, if not thousands of them, from both sides have been facing each other in high-tension stand-offs at several friction points in the region.

Read also: Rajnath says China tried to change status quo in Tawang

Last week, India and China held their 18th round of corps commander-level talks in yet another effort to resolve the stand-off. However, like previous corps commander-level talks, China was unwilling to discuss restoring status quo ante March 2020 on the LAC in eastern Ladakh. As a result, there was no breakthrough in the talks, although both sides agreed to keep the dialogue between the militaries of the two countries going.

Li Shangfu, who is an aerospace engineer as well as a general in China’s People’s Liberation Army, is visiting New Delhi leading the Chinese delegation to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) defence ministers’ meeting, which is scheduled to be held on April 28.

Read also: Indian and Chinese troops clash again at LAC in Arunachal

Apart from the Chinese defence minister, the defence ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are slated to

participate in the SCO meeting in New Delhi. Belarus and Iran, which are currently observers in SCO, will also send their delegations for the meeting.

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