A day after China raised an objection to the India-US joint military exercise being held near the Line of Actual Control (LoAC), India today rejected the northern neighbour’s allegation of a breach of two Sino-Indian pacts, saying New Delhi did not give a veto to any third country on such matters. China’s foreign ministry had opposed the holding of the latest edition of the India-US joint exercise “Yuddh Abhyas” at Auli in Uttarakhand, 100 km from the LoAC, yesterday.
Beijing had said the India-US drills violated the two neighbours’ border management agreements in 1993 and 1996. “Let me emphasise that the exercises that are going on with the US in Auli have nothing to do with the 1993 and 1996 agreements,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in his weekly press meet in response to questions on the position taken by China.
In a veiled reference to China’s aggression in the Ladakh sector of the LoAC where troops of the two countries have been locked in a standoff since May 2020, Bagchi said, “But since these [exercises] were raised and we are talking about them and the Chinese side raised it, let me emphasise that the Chinese side needs to reflect and think about its own breach of these agreements of 1993 and 1996.”
Recall: Chinese casualty up to 50: Dead returned after daybreak on 16 June, 21 June 2020
India accused China of violating several border management agreements and protocols by amassing troops along the LoAC and building infrastructure in disputed regions.
Twenty Indian soldiers and more than double that many Chinese troops (as per third-party estimates like US and Russian reports) were killed at Galwan Valley in June 2020, pushing relations to their nadir in six decades. China admitted to losing only four of its soldiers in the clash.
A 3 February 2022 report: 38 Chinese soldiers drowned in the river during the 2020 Galwan clash
While India and China have withdrawn frontline troops from Pangong Tso, Gogra and Hot Springs, they have been unable to disengage at crucial friction points such as Demchok and Depsang despite more than two dozen rounds of diplomatic and military talks.
The MEA declined to comment on a new Pentagon report that said China warned US officials not to interfere in Beijing’s relations with New Delhi amid the LoAC standoff and reiterated that India does not give a veto to anyone on the relationship with the US.
India expects the diplomatic and military talks with China to have objectives and lead to results, the MEA spokesman said. “What we want from our side is very clear – we have said there should be disengagement and de-escalation,” he said.
The annual Yuddh Abhyas exercise, currently in its 18th edition, aims to enhance interoperability and sharing of expertise between the Indian and US armies for peacekeeping and disaster relief operations. The nearly two-week exercise began last month.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, while responding to a question from a Pakistani journalist at a media briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, said the India-US military exercise “close to the LoAC at the China-India border violates the spirit of the agreements between China and India in 1993 and 1996”. Zhao added, “It does not serve the mutual trust between China and India.”