India-China border tense, PM Modi chairs high-level security meeting

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with the country's top defence and foreign affairs officials and the National Security Advisor (NSA) over the prevailing tense situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. NSA Ajit Doval and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, were part of the meeting. During the meeting, Modi wanted to know how to end the standoff and resolve the issue

May 27, 2020
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with the country's top defence and foreign affairs officials and the National Security Advisor (NSA) over the prevailing tense situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. NSA Ajit Doval and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, were part of the meeting. During the meeting, Modi wanted to know how to end the standoff and resolve the issue.

Earlier in the day, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting with General Bipin Rawat and the three service chiefs to understand the prevailing ground situation of the face-off in Ladakh and to discuss the next move of the forces.

Sources said that the deliberation over the matter carried on for more than an hour. Singh was briefed about the Indian response in matching up to the Chinese troop mobilisation.

It was clarified during the meeting that the Indian Army will hold its fort and talks to diffuse the situation would continue.

It was also decided in the meeting that road constructions must continue and the Indian fortifications and troop deployment must match the Chinese.

Earlier, the Indian Army and China's People's Liberation Army held several meetings to resolve the face-off in Eastern Ladakh at the Line of Actual Control. However, no breakthrough has taken place.

The last meeting took place on Sunday, but many things remained unresolved, said sources, adding that more commander-level talks are in the pipeline to resolve the issues.

Sources said that there have been five rounds of talks between the military commanders on the ground, but there has been no breakthrough.

A top Indian Army officer told IANS, "No breakthrough. Status quo is maintained."

He also said that the situation will be resolved, but the Indian Army will continue with its construction work along the LAC.

Sources said that there has been a troop build-up on both sides and there are three to four places where there is an eyeball to eyeball situation since May 5. Across Line of Actual Control, both sides have deployed over 1000 troops in eyeball to eyeball situation at four places.

Indian Army is keeping a close watch in the Pangong Tso sector of Eastern Ladakh and the Galwan Valley region where the Chinese have enhanced deployment. Other than Pangong Tso, which is extremely sensitive, the other places that are volatile in the wake of the recent escalation are Trig Heights, Demchok and Chumar in Ladakh, which form the western sector of the India-China frontier.

The disengagement took place in Eastern Ladakh after troops came to blows on May 5 and were involved in a face-off till the morning of May 6 when troops from both sides clashed, leaving several injured. Sources reported a massive troop build-up by China on their side, not too far away from the point of the standoff.

It was also observed that enhanced patrolling was being carried out by China in the Pangong Lake. They have also increased the number of boats.

The face-offs were triggered by Indian road construction and development of infrastructure which the Chinese objected to.

However, the Indian Army has maintained that there is no continuing face-off at the Pangong lake and there is no build up of armed troops in the area.

On Friday, Indian Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane visited Leh, the headquarters of 14 Corps in Ladakh, and reviewed the security deployment of the forces along the LAC with China. He held a meeting with Northern Command (NC) chief, Lieutenant General Y.K. Joshi, and the 14 Corps commander, Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, and other officers to know the ground situation at the forward locations along the LAC. Later in the day, he returned to Delhi.

In Beijing China downplayed the much-publicised evacuation of its citizens from India in the backdrop of the border tension between both the countries. Global Times, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, said that evacuation of Chinese citizens from India was a normal process and should not be linked with the border tensions.

Published in English, Global Times also clarified that the news of escalation of tension on the India-China border was just media speculation. The paper wrote, "The voluntary repatriation plan should be seen as a normal service provided by the embassy to its citizens. Yet, some Indian media outlets have intentionally linked the normal operation to the recent border tension between China and India, fuelling a new round of irresponsible speculation that China may be preparing for an escalation of the border disputes."

Earlier on Monday, in an urgent notice, the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi had told its citizens residing in India that special flights would be available to fly them back home. The Chinese plans to evacuate its citizens was seen in the backdrop of the growing border tensions between India and China, besides the rising Covid-19 cases in parts of Western and Northern India.

The notice said that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made elaborate plans, especially for students and tourists who have been facing difficulty in taking flights to China

A day later, Global Times hinted that the decision to evacuate Chinese citizens was taken to relieve the stranded students, tourists and businessmen in India.

"On Monday, India became the 10th worst-hit country in the Covid-19 pandemic, with its number of coronavirus cases totaling nearly 140,000," it said.

The newspaper further said that New Delhi should not misinterpret the move by China this time. After all, it was not long ago that the Indian government took similar actions to bring home its citizens stranded abroad.

Government sources in Beijing said that both the countries should focus on improving bilateral trade amid the global economic crisis caused by the spread of the pandemic.

"As a result of coronavirus shocks and other structural trade factors, China-India economic and trade exchanges are already stuck in an awkward situation. For instance, after changing its foreign direct investment policy to block potential takeovers from Chinese companies, the Indian government is reportedly considering clamping down on Chinese investors' access to the Indian market," the paper wrote (IANS)

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