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US defence chief says China continuing to harden LAC position, latter blames India for the situation

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(TibetanReview.net, Jun13’22) – A day after US Defence Secretary Lloyd James Austin accused China of continuing to harden its position in what is occupied Tibet along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India, Chinese Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe has maintained Jun 12 that the two nations were working together for peace along the LAC. However, he has then accused India of being entirely responsible for the current border crisis. India’s position is that China’s cross-border incursions and attacks on its troops had brought the two countries to the brink of an armed conflict.

While attending the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Jun 11, Lloyd Austin had said China was taking aggressive and illegal approaches to the territories it claims in the South China Sea and advancing its illegal maritime plans. He also said, “further to the West, we see Beijing continuing to harden the position along the borders it shares with India.”

Wei referred to both the issues in his address at the Shangri-La Dialogue on Jun 12. He called for peaceful means for settling territorial disputes including those in the South China Sea. He also said, “China and India are neighbours and maintaining a good relationship meets the interests of both countries. And that is what we are working on.”

“We have had 15 rounds of talks at commander level with the Indians and we are working together for peace in this area,” livemint.com Jun 12 quoted Wei as saying, referring to the conflict on the LAC with India.

Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in a tense border standoff in eastern Ladakh since May 5, 2020, following a violent clash between the two sides in the Pangong lake area. Besides, China has been building bridges and other infrastructure such as roads and residential units in occupied Tibet’s border areas with India.

Recent reports say the Chinese Air Force had deployed over two dozen frontline aircraft at its Hotan air base near Eastern Ladakh sector.

Besides, both the sides were reported to have deployed around 50,000 troops each across the Chinese occupied Tibet border.

Wei has denied all responsibility on the part of China for this situation.

“The merits of the China-India border conflicts are very clear, and the responsibility does not lie with China,” China’s official globaltimes.cn Jun 12 quoted Wei as saying at the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ 19th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Jun 12 morning.

Wei has said both sides were working together for peace along the LAC. However, as on most of the previous occasions, the two countries didn’t make much headway in the last round of diplomatic talks on May 31. They could only agree to continue discussions on outstanding issues and to convene the next meeting of senior military commanders at an early date, noted the hindustantimes.com Jun 13.

The report also noted that India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar had earlier said in Feb 2022: “For 45 years, there was peace, there was stable border management, and there were no military casualties on the border from 1975. That changed because we had agreements with China not to bring military forces to the border (the Line of Actual Control or LAC), and the Chinese violated those agreements.”

Given this development, Jaishankar was reported to have added, “Now, the state of the border will determine the state of the relationship. That’s natural. So obviously, the relations with China right now are going through a very difficult phase.”

China, on the other hand, has repeatedly insisted that the border situation need not prevent the two sides from having normal relations in other areas.

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