New Delhi: China citing “border pacts” to object to the upcoming India-US military exercises has given New Delhi a much-needed opportunity to intensify and strengthen its ongoing diplomatic campaign to expose Beijing’s disregard for written agreements on Line of Actual Control (LAC) among the global community. Soon after a PLA official objected to the upcoming India-US military drills citing “violation of border pacts”, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) through diplomatic channels in various countries and global forums quickly amplified the message that China’s military, which carried out several transgressions across the LAC in violation of border agreements over the last several years including the one in eastern Ladakh sector, is ridiculously citing the same pacts to object to the upcoming India-US joint exercises. China is actually trying to divert the global community’s attention from its misdeeds along LAC, say diplomats. India has reached out to US, several European countries, the United Nations and other significant forums with the message that highlights contradictions in Beijing’s claims on border pacts, highly-placed diplomatic sources told The Sunday Guardian. India has forcefully denied Chinese charges as well.
According to sources, India’s Permanent Representative to UN, Ruchira Kamboj has shared these views with the top diplomats from various countries in the United Nations. “The global community has agreed with India that China is carrying out activities in violation of the border pacts as has been witnessed in the eastern Ladakh sector along the LAC,” sources said. “A top US diplomat told the Indian officials in the UN that Beijing has no right whatsoever to talk about border pacts, given its own track-record of blatantly disrespecting the written border agreements for the Line of Actual Control,” sources added. The Biden administration will come on record with these views against Chinese charges, sources add.
In fact, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has already highlighted the issue of China violating border agreements along the LAC on several occasions. “India wanted China to refer to the issues related to border agreements, which it finally did, thereby giving New Delhi a chance to sharpen its attacks against Beijing,” an official said.
Only a few days ago, Jaishankar in Brazil said, “China is disregarding border pacts, which is clearly casting a shadow on the relationship between the two countries.” “We are going through a very difficult phase. We have an agreement with China going back to the 1990s which prohibits bringing mass troops to the border areas. They have disregarded that. What happened in Galwan two years ago has not been resolved and that is clearly casting a shadow (on relations),” said Jaishankar. After the Quad foreign ministers’ meeting, Jaishankar in Australia had slammed China for disregarding the written agreements with India on not massing troops at the border. Jaishankar had also said that it is an issue of legitimate concern for the entire international community. The Chinese government has been terribly upset with India accusing it of disregarding the written border pacts. So, now a PLA official tried to put the similar blame on India as New Delhi and Washington prepare for the joint drills. Sources said that it is a diplomatic triumph that Beijing is now talking about border pacts, which gave New Delhi a good chance to seek global focus on violations of border agreements by China itself.
“We firmly oppose any third party to meddle in the China-India border issue in any form,” PLA senior colonel Tan Kefei, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence, recently said. In Delhi, the MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi rejected Tan’s allegation, saying that the India-US exercises are “completely different” from the situation at the LAC. He denied that they were “targeting” China or were violative of previous agreements. Bagchi said that India has always held that the two sides should “stick to” past agreements. “Obviously, that hasn’t happened”, he added, referring to Chinese transgressions along the LAC.
In fact, the upcoming fifteenth edition of the “Yudh Abhyas” joint exercise of India and US is expected to take place next month in a high-altitude area in Uttarakhand less than 100 km from the LAC. In April 2020, two divisions of the PLA, having completed routine exercises, deployed in large numbers close to the LAC and carried out multiple transgressions which, India pointed out, violated the 1993 and 1996 agreements to maintain peace in the border areas.
Meanwhile, the PLA commander pointed out “Both sides have maintained effective communications at all levels and agreed to properly handle the situation through bilateral dialogues. In light of the relevant agreements signed by China and India in 1993 and 1996, neither side is allowed to conduct military exercise against the other in areas near the Line of Actual Control”. He further said, “It is hoped that the Indian side will strictly abide by the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and the relevant agreements, uphold its commitment to resolving border issues through bilateral channels, and maintain peace and tranquillity in the border area with practical actions.”
Indian diplomats have described these remarks as bunkum, saying that by raising this issue, the Chinese official has brought its own misdeeds along the LAC into a sharp global focus. The PLA official is interpreting the agreements’ clause in accordance with what suits China, while the more he was talking about border pacts the more he was exposing his country, says a diplomat. “The statements like this have triggered the debate among the world community about how Beijing has been a violator of the written border pacts, say sources.