India on Thursday made the normalization of ties with China conditional on the restoration of the status quo along the line of actual control, or LAC, and disengagement of troops, signaling a hardening of position amid a massive buildup of Chinese troops, tanks, and artillery near the un-demarcated border. New Delhi also warned that the continuation of tensions would damage ties, acknowledging for the first time Chinese troops massing along the 3,488-km LAC, in violation of a 1993 pact. In response, India, too, has sent in reinforcements, the foreign ministry said.
In a strongly-worded statement, foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said it was “Chinese actions thus far, which have led to an increase in tension in the region and also to the violent face-off of 15 June with casualties.” The reference was to a bloody clash between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan region of Ladakh that claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers. The Indian statement came as the Chinese ambassador to India, Sun Weidong, said China hoped India would meet the Chinese side “halfway and avoid taking actions that may complicate the border situation.” Rising tension between the two neighbors is seen as the worst in decades with a major breakdown in trust.
In his statement, Srivastava set out the context of recent incidents and face-offs along the LAC. “At the heart of the matter is that since early May, the Chinese side has been amassing a large contingent of troops and armaments along LAC,” in violation of the 1993 pact. Since May, China has been hindering India’s normal patrolling in the Galwan Valley area, he said, adding China was trying to change the status quo in the region. India had protested this and senior military commanders of the two countries met on 6 June when they “agreed on a process for de-escalation and disengagement along LAC that involved reciprocal actions”. Both countries had agreed to “respect and abide by the LAC and not undertake any activity to alter the status quo,” Srivastava said. China later violated this agreement, which resulted in the 15 June clash, he said. “Thereafter, both sides remain deployed in large numbers in the region, while military and diplomatic contacts are continuing.”