Amid months-long heightened tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi along the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) council of foreign ministers’ summit in Moscow. Both the leaders arrived at a five-point consensus to resolve the border tensions in what the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has called a "frank and constructive discussion".
In a statement, MEA has said that both sides should take guidance from the series of consensuses reached at various levels and not allow "differences to become disputes." Noting that the situation along the LAC is not beneficial for any of the two countries, both the leaders observed that "dialogue" should continue to "quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions." Jaishankar and Wang Yi also agreed that both sides "shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquillity."
This meeting is crucial as the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA soldiers are involved in a standoff at the border and the brigade commander-level talks between two countries, that started last Monday, ended inconclusively. It was the second high-level meeting between leaders of two countries within a short space of time post the clash along the LAC on August 29, 30 and thereafter. Last week, Defence Ministers of both countries also met in Moscow.
At the formal opening of the meeting in Moscow of the Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. pic.twitter.com/QjtYnUxJlw— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) September 10, 2020
1. The two Ministers agreed that both sides should take guidance from the series of consensuses of the leaders on developing India-China relations, including not allowing differences to become disputes.
2. The two Foreign Ministers agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions.
3. The two Ministers agreed that both sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.
4. The two sides also agreed to continue to have dialogue and communication through the Special Representative mechanism on the India-China boundary question. They also agreed in this context that the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China border affairs (WMCC), should also continue its meetings.
5. The Ministers agreed that as the situation eases, the two sides should expedite work to conclude new Confidence Building Measures to maintain and enhance peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
On the intervening night of August 29-30, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops violated the previous consensus arrived at during military & diplomatic engagements. The Indian troops not only pre-empted the activity of the PLA on the southern bank of the Pangong Tso lake but also thwarted attempts to unilaterally change the facts on the ground, with 20 Jawans making the ultimate sacrifice and inflicting casualties on the Chinese side that Beijing hasn't yet revealed. On August 31, the MEA revealed that China once again engaged in provocative action even as the ground commanders of the two nations were trying to deescalate the situation. However, the Indian Army yet again foiled the attempt to unilaterally change the status quo.
On September 8, the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) mouthpiece Global Times claimed that the Indian troops illegally crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and 'outrageously fired warning shots' on Chinese border patrol soldiers who were about to negotiate. The Indian Army refuted all the claims by China and clarified that India is committed to disengagement and de-escalating the situation on the LAC but China continues to undertake provocative activities to escalate. Moreover, Chinese claims were laid bare and the truth was obfuscated when a photo from the incident showed PLA troops at the south bank of Pangong Tso in Eastern Ladakh sector milled together and armed with spears, machetes, other rudimentary weapons along and automatic rifles.