Shortly after PM Narendra Modi said that “no one” entered or occupied Indian territory, Beijing Friday reiterated its claim on the entire Galwan valley in Ladakh and said the region was on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control and had been patrolled by People’s Liberation Army for “many years”.
In what seemed as yet another attempt to needle India, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian issued a statement described as a “step-by-step account of the Galwan valley incident” posting it on the website of Chinese embassy in India shortly before midnight on Friday.
“The Galwan Valley is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control in the west section of the China-India boundary. For many years, the Chinese border troops have been patrolling and on duty in this region,” Zhao said in the statement.
China’s PLA western command had in a statement issued on Tuesday initially raised the issue, saying: “The sovereignty of the Galwan River Valley has always been ours.”
On Thursday, external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had dismissed the PLA’s claim as “exaggerated and untenable”.
On Monday night, Indian and Chinese troops were involved in a seven-hour violent face-off in Galwan Valley that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and at least 76 injured. Another 10 Indian soldiers held by the Chinese side were reportedly released on Thursday.
The fresh statement from China on Friday further claimed that since April, Indian troops had “unilaterally and continuously built roads, bridges and other facilities at the LAC in the Galwan Valley”.
China made representations and protests on multiple occasions but “India has gone even further to cross the LAC and make provocations”, Zhao said.
Zhao contended Indian troops crossed the LAC by night and trespassed into China’s territory on May 6 and then “built fortification and barricades, which impeded the patrol of Chinese border troops”.
“They deliberately made provocations in an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo of control and management. The Chinese border troops have been forced to take necessary measures to respond to the situation on the ground and strengthen management and control in the border areas,” he said.
The statement from China came a few hours after PM Narendra Modi said that “neither have they intruded into our border, nor has any post been taken over by them.”
“20 of our jawans were martyred, but those who dared Bharat Mata, they were taught a lesson,” the PM said.
Referring to a meeting of senior Indian and Chinese military commanders held on June 6, Zhao said the two sides “reached consensus on easing the situation”. He claimed the Indian side “promised that they would not cross the estuary of the Galwan river to patrol and build facilities” and the two sides would discuss and decide the phased withdrawal of troops”.
Zhao claimed that on June 15, Indian troops violated the agreement reached on June 6 and “once again crossed the Line of Actual Control for deliberate provocation…and even violently attacked the Chinese officers and soldiers who went there for negotiation, thus triggering fierce physical conflicts and causing casualties”.
He reiterated various accusations levelled by the Chinese side in recent days about the violation of agreements.
There was no immediate reaction from Indian officials to Zhao’s account.
A readout issued by the external affairs ministry after a phone conversation between external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on June 17 had clearly accused Chinese troops of provoking the clash on June 15 by entering the Indian side of the LAC.
The readout had said the Chinese side “sought to erect a structure in Galwan valley on our side of the LAC”. It had added: “While this became a source of dispute, the Chinese side took pre-meditated and planned action that was directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties. It reflected an intent to change the facts on ground in violation of all our agreements to not change the status quo.”