Ladakh face-off: China attempted to unilaterally change status quo, says MEA

PTI

File photo: India China Border

File photo: India China Border

India on Tuesday said the violent face-off between the armies of India and China in eastern Ladakh was the result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo in the region.

The Ministry of External Affairs said both sides suffered casualties that could have been avoided had the agreement arrived at earlier at the higher level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side.

A total of 20 Indian soldiers have died in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, the Indian Army said in a statement. The face-off has escalated the already volatile border standoff between the two sides. This is also the highest number of fatalities in decades.

Earlier in the day, the Indian Army said India lost an officer and two soldiers during the clash. There were casualties on the Chinese side as well, government and military sources said.

The MEA said India and China have been discussing through military and diplomatic channels the de-escalation of the situation in the border area in eastern Ladakh, and senior commanders had a productive meeting on June 6.

It said both sides agreed on a process for such de-escalation.

“Subsequently, ground commanders had a series of meetings to implement the consensus reached at a higher level. While it was our expectation that this would unfold smoothly, the Chinese side departed from the consensus to respect the Line of Actual Control in the Galwan Valley,” the MEA said

It said a violent face-off took place on the late-evening and night of June 15 as a “result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there”.

“Given its responsible approach to border management, India is very clear that all its activities are always within the Indian side of the LAC. We expect the same of the Chinese side,” MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

“We remain firmly convinced of the need for the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas and the resolution of differences through dialogue,” Srivastava said.

“At the same time, we are also strongly committed to ensuring India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he added.