Galwan clash: China levels fresh blame against India, says New Delhi provoked clash

China on Wednesday launched a twin diplomatic tirade against India with its foreign and defence ministries blaming New Delhi for the Galwan Valley clash on June 15 and alleging that the external affairs ministry (MEA) and Indian media were spreading false information about the incident.

A day after referring to the military commander-level talks of June 22 as an effort to “lower the temperature” and “properly handle differences”, the two ministries separately castigated New Delhi for violating bilateral agreements, international rules and provoking the clash.

The mention of “international rules” by the Chinese foreign ministry could have been in the context of external affairs minister, S Jaishankar mentioning the importance of following international rules during the Russia, India, China foreign ministers’ meet.

The deadly brawl left 20 Indian army soldiers dead and caused unspecified number of casualties to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

When asked why the Chinese foreign ministry was repeating the points of contention – New Delhi has summarily dismissed Beijing’s one-sided version of the incident – despite renewed talks of peace and tranquility at border, spokesperson, Zhao Lijian had this to say at today’s ministry briefing: “What I have just said, my statement just now is meant to clarify the whole situation, tell the truth to everyone. We made the statement because the MEA in India and also Indian media have made some false reports.”

On Tuesday, Zhao had dismissed as “fake news” a statement by Indian minister VK Singh that the PLA could have suffered double the number of casualties compared to the Indian army.

In the statement he read out after the ministry briefing was over, Zhao said that early morning on May 6, “…India’s border troops under the guise of darkness, trespassed into China’s territory and provoked the incident. China’s troops had to take necessary measures to strengthen their response and their management of the border areas.”

“Secondly, it is the Indian side that went against bilateral agreement and provoked first. Because of our diplomatic and military representations, the Indian side at first agreed to withdraw personnel from Galwan Valley and so it did, and it dismantled its facilities as requested by the Chinese side,” Zhao added.

Zhao then continued to give the so-called step-by-step account of the incident.

“During the first Commanders’ meeting on June 6, the Indian side committed no trespassing of the Galwan Valley for patrol and for building. The two sides agreed to set up observatory posts at the two sides of the Galwan river estuary, but the Indian side went against these agreements and asked China to dismantle China’s posts and also it crossed the Line to provoke which led to the clash,” he said.

There was no immediate reaction from the Indian side to the claims levelled by Zhao.

Zhao continued: In the evening of June 15, India’s frontline troops went against the agreement reached at the Commander-level meeting, crossed the LAC and sabotaged the tents Chinese side set up.”

“When China’s border troops went to negotiate as per protocol, the Indian side suddenly attacked Chinese personnel violently, which led to fierce physical clashes and casualties. This risky behaviour by the Indian side greatly violated the agreement between the two countries and the basic norms guiding international relation. It’s very serious, with very severe consequences.”

On the June 22 talks, he said: “We hope this time the Indian side will strictly follow the agreement and work with China to take concrete actions and resume peace and stability in the border areas”.

Separately, the Chinese defence ministry too took aim at India on Wednesday, repeating nearly word-for-word earlier Chinese statements.

Speaking at online interaction with selected media, defence ministry spokesperson, Wu Qian said: “But what is shocking is that on the evening of June 15th, the Indian front-line frontier troops openly violated the consensus reached by the two sides, turned their backs, and once again crossed the actual control line to deliberately provoke China”.

“While negotiating on the spot, Chinese officers and soldiers were suddenly violently attacked by the Indian side. This triggered intense physical clashes between officers and soldiers on both sides, resulting in casualties.”

India has already rejected twice China’s claims on the skirmish.

India on June 20, for the second time, rejected China’s claim on Galwan Valley in Ladakh and reiterated that the violent clash of June 15 was triggered by Chinese efforts to build structures on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The external affairs ministry dismissed claims made by China’s foreign ministry in a statement issued regarding both sovereignty over Galwan Valley and the genesis of the clash on Monday night that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said the position with regard to Galwan Valley was “historically clear”. He added, “Attempts by the Chinese side to now advance exaggerated and untenable claims with regard to Line of Actual Control (LAC) there are not acceptable. They are not in accordance with China’s own position in the past.”

Srivastava further said the brawl of June 15 was the result of “violent actions” by Chinese troops after they were prevented by Indian soldiers from building structures on the Indian side of the LAC. He noted senior military commanders of the two sides had agreed during a meeting on June 6 on a process for de-escalation and disengagement along the LAC that “involved reciprocal actions”.