Extracts from Foreign Ministry Spokesperson’s Remarks at his Regular Press Conference
Prasar Bharati: The spokesperson of the Chinese military issued a statement on September 7 regarding an incident in the southern bank of the Pangong Tso. In response to that, the Indian government has also issued a statement saying that China has taken provocative steps, not India, and Chinese troops also fired warning shots. I was just wondering if you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Western Theater Command spokesperson already released a statement on the incident you mentioned. On September 7, the Indian troops illegally crossed the line into the Shenpao Mountain region on the southern bank of the Pangong Lake in the western sector of the China-India border and blatantly fired shots to threaten the Chinese border patrol personnel who approached them for representations. The Chinese troops had no choice but to take measures in response to stabilize and control the situation on the ground. The Indian side’s behavior is a grave violation of relevant bilateral agreements, which heightened tensions and made the situation highly susceptible to misunderstanding and miscalculation. This is a serious military provocation of an egregious nature.
We demand that the Indian side immediately stop dangerous activities, pull back trespassers, strictly discipline frontline troops, hold those who fired the shots in provocation accountable, and make sure such incidents will not be repeated. The Chinese troops will resolutely fulfill their duty and defend China’s territorial sovereignty.
Prasar Bharati: I’ve seen this statement you read just now by the spokesperson of the Chinese military. I was wondering what kind of consultations Chinese troops wanted to have with Indian troops? And what kind of countermeasures they have taken to stabilize the situation?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese side has lodged solemn representations with the Indian side through diplomatic and military channels on this. We demand that the Indian side immediately stop dangerous activities, pull back trespassers, strictly discipline frontline troops, hold those who fired the shots in provocation accountable, and make sure such incidents will not be repeated.
Prasar Bharati: There’s so much confusion because both India and China have been making similar kind of statement saying things about each other. I just wonder whether the issue of disengagement at the Pangong Tso area came up during defense ministers’ talks in Moscow and if they reached agreement there about this as part of their agreement, if any?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese side has already released a readout on the meeting between the Chinese and Indian defense ministers on September 4 in Moscow. I can give you a recap.
State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe said it is very important for the two ministers to hold candid exchange of views face-to-face as relations between the two countries and military have been severely affected by border issues. The root and truth of the current tensions is very clear. The Indian side is entirely responsible. Not an inch of China’s territory shall be lost. The Chinese military is absolutely determined, capable and confident in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The two sides should faithfully implement the important consensus reached between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi and stick to dialogue and consultation to resolve relevant issues. We hope that the Indian side will strictly follow the series of agreements inked with China in tightening their control over the front-line troops and make sure they make no provocation by trespassing the LAC, taking no action that may stoke tension, and refrain from hyping up and highlighting negativities. Both sides should set eyes on the big picture of China-India relations and regional peace and stability. We should work together and pull towards the same direction so as to cool down the situation as soon as possible and uphold peace and tranquility in the border areas.
Indian Defense Minister Singh said that peace and stability in the border areas is of critical importance to the bilateral relationship, considering the current situation. The two sides should keep dialogues at all levels going, including through military and diplomatic channels, and strive to peacefully resolve the relevant issues through dialogue and consultation. The two sides should act responsibly and take measures to fully disengage front-line troops at an early date and avoid further escalating or confounding the situation. Differences shall not be allowed to become disputes and the state-to-state and mil-to-mil relations shall be returned to the right track at an early date.
I also want to add that in this incident, it was the Indian side that first opened fires at and threatened the Chinese border troopers. The tranquility of the border areas was for the first time since 1975 pieced through by the gun shots. China has been reiterating that the two sides should seek to resolve issues through peaceful consultation and dialogue. Confrontation does no one good.
(The statement of the Ministry of Defence, India of September 8, 2020 10:49 AM can be seen here.)