‘Reassess Your Actions and Take Corrective Steps’: S. Jaishankar to Wang Yi on the Indo-Chinese Face-Off

On June 17, 2020 India’s External Affairs Minister (EAM) S.Jaishankar held telecommunication with the Foreign Minister of China, H.E. Mr. Wang Yi. The conversation was based on the increasing Indo-China tensions over the LAC. Primarily, the EAM conveyed the protest of the Government of India in the strongest terms on the violent Indo-Chinese face-off in Galwan Valley on 15 June 2020. He reiterated that unprecedented development will have a “serious impact” on the bilateral ties. Furthermore, he asked the Chinese side to assess its actions and take corrective steps. Hence, both sides agreed to “cool down tension as soon as possible” and implement the understanding reached by the Senior Commanders on 6th June 2020.

Indo-Chinese Relations

The phone call came in the light of a tragic Indo-Chinese face-off that took place on June 15, 2020. The clashes resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers. India and China have a long history of a border dispute that goes back to 1975. India claims that China illegally occupied about 38,000 sq km of its territory in Aksai Chin, which borders eastern Ladakh. Pakistan also ceded to China about 5,180 sq km of the Indian territory in 1963. Moreover, China also lays its claim on 90,000 sq km of Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh and about 2,000 sq km in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

What Happened on June 15, 2020?

The two sides deployed additional troops along the disputed boundary line in eastern Ladakh (Galwan Valley region). The constant build-ups on both sides have resulted in escalating tensions between the two nations. On June 6, 2020 both the nations agreed on the implementation of “disengagement understanding“. This meant that both sides would withdraw troops. Nonetheless, the violent face-off took place on June 15, 2020 when the “disengagement process” was on.

 Highlights from the Talk

  • While citing his protest the EAM recalled that at the meeting of senior Military Commanders held on 6th June, both sides had reached an agreement on de-escalation and disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • Pointing to the cause of the face-off, he conveyed that there was some progress; but the Chinese side sought to erect a structure in Galwan valley on Indian side of the LAC. As this became a source of dispute, the Chinese side took “premeditated and planned action”- directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties.
  • This was in violation of the June 6, 2020 agreement as it exhibited the objective of changing on-ground facts.
  • Jaishankar also told Wang, that “need of the hour was for the Chinese side to reassess its actions” and “scrupulously and sincerely implement the understanding that was reached by the Senior Commanders on 6th June.
  • In response, the Chinese counterpart conveyed the Chinese position on recent developments.

In conclusion, both sides seem to agree that the current situation would be handled in the utmost responsible way. That being said, both sides shall maintain peace and tranquility by sincerely implementing the disengagement understanding of June 6, 2020. Meanwhile, referring to the recent conversation Wang Yi said, “Mutual respect and support is a sure way and meets the long-term interests of both countries; suspicion and friction is a wrong path and goes against the fundamental aspiration of the two peoples.