After giving a report to the Lok Sabha (Parliament) on the India-China border situation on the 15th, Indian Defence Minister Singh was questioned by members of Parliament on the issue in the Rajya Sabha on the 17th. According to the Times of India, Singh said that “the clashes and stand-off (along the India-China border) were caused by patrolling issues”. He again accused “China of trying to unilaterally change the status quo on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) along the China-India border by launching provocative military operations,” and emphasised that “India wants a peaceful solution to the border issue” but would not shy away from taking all necessary measures “to “defend national sovereignty”. The Huan Qiu Shi Bao reporter noted that Singh’s statement was basically the same as the one he made to the Lok Sabha on behalf of the Government on Tuesday”.
Singh talked about the so-called “patrolling (interruptions) leading to conflict” argument is identical to the revelation in an interview given to the local media on the 17th by an anonymous senior Indian army officer. According to the Indian Express, the officer said that India did not lose any territory in this round of India-China border confrontation, but the Indian army has not deployed personnel and weapons and equipment in the area in such a large numbers for over 15 years. He also said that the Indian army was currently focusing its defensive efforts on the eastern part of the “Ladakh region”, but was fully aware of “the possibility of Chinese incursions at any of the disputed sites along the entire Line of Actual Control (LAC)” and that “the entire border area is therefore on “high alert”. He said the Chinese had deployed two brigades in the Depsang Plains to cut off the Indian army’s access to Patrol Points 10 to 13 and “this obstruction of the Indian Army from reaching its traditional patrol points had been going on for weeks before the current stand-off”.
During the question hour on the 17th, Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Naidu said, “We have never attacked any country” and asked Singh to listen carefully to the suggestions of other party leaders. India’s opposition Congress Party member Sharma expressed support for the Indian Army’s front-line soldiers, and asked “whether the government will demand the restoration of status quo ante on the LAC along the India-China border (as in April)”. In his response, Singh briefly described the “different understandings” between India and China on the LAC, saying, “I would like to assure the Parliament and members that India will not back down or take any hasty decisions”.
Singh claimed on Tuesday that the conflict between the Chinese and Indian forces in the Galwan Valley on June 15 caused heavy casualties to the Chinese side. However, Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Huan Qiu Shi Bao, learned from Chinese sources on June 17 that the number of Chinese officers and soldiers killed in that serious physical clash was far less than the number of Indian officers and soldiers killed — a total of 20 (Indian troops killed), many of whom froze to death after failing to receive medical treatment for their injuries. In the clashes on the Northern shore of Pangong Lake, the Indians “pre-empted” (i.e., crossed the border), seized the high ground, and pelted the PLA with stones from above. But the heroic PLA soldiers, undaunted by the Indian threat, stormed the high ground and drove the Indians away. Our troops now have overall confrontational (positional) advantage at a number of points.
In his regular press conference on the 17th, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in answer to queries regarding “disengagement” that China’s border troops have always strictly abided by agreements between the two countries, and are committed to safeguarding China’s territorial sovereignty, and to maintaining peace and tranquility in the border areas. And that the most pressing task now was for the Indian side to correct its wrongdoing immediately, disengage as soon as possible to break (eye ball to eye ball) contact and take practical actions to promote the easing of tensions on the border.
The “Huan Qiu Shi Bao” reporter noted that during this round of Indian Parliament, the Sino-Indian border confrontation and Sino-Indian bilateral relations have attracted much attention. According to India’s New Delhi TV report on the 17th, Indian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Murali Dharan responded in writing to clearly reply “no” in response to a member’s question on whether India’s recent bilateral relations with Nepal, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Myanmar and other neighboring countries had deteriorated. In addition, legislators also asked whether China was vigorously developing good relations with the above-mentioned five countries, and about the “steps taken by India to establish friendly relations with its neighbours”. Muralidharan responded to say that India’s relations with other countries should first be based on its own position, independent of the relations between these countries and third countries. India has always attached the highest priority to development of relations with neighboring countries.
According to Indian media reports, recently, the PLA installed several loudspeakers in the Sino Indian border confrontation area, continuously playing songs from the northern Indian state of Punjab to the Indian army. Indian media speculated that this was a move by the Chinese side to divert the attention of the Indian side, or to relieve pressure on itself. Some Indian netizens speculated that this was “China being afraid and looking for a truce with a low profile”. However, a person familiar with the matter told the Huan Qiu Shi Bao on the 17th that the Indian side had not understood this correctly. What China wanted to convey was that the Indian army was “besieged on all sides”. The Chinese use the metaphor of “besieged on all sides” to describe a situation in which the opponent (Indian Army) is surrounded by enemies on all sides, isolated and in trouble.