Beijing: China’s defence ministry on Thursday said it firmly opposes any third party meddling in the border issue and hopes India will abide by the bilateral agreements to not hold military drills near the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the very pacts it has been accused of violating in eastern Ladakh leading to a prolonged standoff.
Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defence (MND), made the comments while replying to a question about reports of special forces of the US and India recently holding a joint combat exercise in the southern foothills of the Himalayas and their plans to conduct a joint military exercise code-named “War Exercise” (Yudh Abhyas) in October, close to the border.
China has noted the relevant reports and will pay close attention to military movements in the border areas, Tan said. He said that China has always stressed that military cooperation between relevant countries, especially exercises and training activities, should not be aimed at third parties and should be conducive to regional peace and stability, Tan told an online press conference here.
“We firmly oppose any third party to meddle in the China-India border issue in any form,” he said. The China-India border issue is a matter between the two countries. Both sides have maintained effective communications at all levels and agreed to properly handle the situation through bilateral dialogues, he said.
According to the spirit of the relevant agreements signed between China and India in 1993 and 1996, the two sides are not allowed to conduct military exercises against each other in areas near the LAC, state-run Global Times quoted him as saying.
He urged the Indian side to strictly abide by the important consensus and agreements reached by the leaders of the two countries, honour its commitment to solving the boundary issue through bilateral dialogue and take concrete actions to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
The Chinese Defence Ministry’s reference to the 1993 and 1996 agreements is interesting as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) mobilised a large number of troops for exercises and subsequent attempts to move to the disputed areas in the LAC in eastern Ladakh in May 2020 has sparked a major military standoff which is continuing.
India has said the PLA’s actions violated the bilateral agreements.
As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process last year on the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area.
So far, the two sides held 16 rounds of Commanders’ level talks to resolve the standoff.
India and the US will kick-start an over two-week-long mega military exercise in Uttarakhand’s Auli in October amid the fast-evolving regional security scenario.
The 18th edition of exercise “Yudh Abhyas” is scheduled to take place from October 14 to 31, sources in the defence and military establishment said early this month.