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US Congressman “deeply concerned” about India-China border crisis

07:41 | 19/09/2020

Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Indian-American Congressman has urged China to end its military provocations and pursue a diplomatic resolution to the tense border standoff in Ladakh.

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us congressman deeply concerned about india china border crisis
Raja Krishnamoorthi. File photo of Indian Express

Over the past few months, top American lawmakers have expressed their concerns over the India-China border crisis.

Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Indian-American Congressman has urged China to end its military provocations and pursue a diplomatic resolution to the tense border standoff in Ladakh.

Krishnamoorthi said this following a classified briefing on the issue by the US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, of which he is the first and only Indian-American member. The committee’s meeting was the first ever on the issue.

I am deeply concerned about this issue, which is why I authored a bipartisan resolution overwhelmingly approved by the House urging China to end its military provocations of India and to pursue a diplomatic resolution,” Krishnamoorthi was quoted by Indian Express as saying.

I will continue to closely monitor this dispute until it is fully resolved,” he said.

Earlier, Lisa Curtis, deputy assistant to the US president, told a top American think-tank the US is encouraged by India’s strong yet responsible approach to the Chinese aggression. “While always seeking to de-escalate through diplomatic means, India also demonstrated military and economic resolve,” she said.

From a bilateral perspective, China’s recent actions on Line of Actual Control has further reinforced the importance of the US-India strategic partnership, and our resolve to strengthen the US-India ties as a bulwark against Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific,” she said.

Throughout this crisis, the United States has provided strong and unambiguous support for India, and our cooperation has grown closer,” Curtis said.

10 patrolling points in eastern Ladakh blocked by Chinese army

us congressman deeply concerned about india china border crisis
Army trucks move towards LAC in eastern Ladakh amid the prolonged India-China standoff. Photo: PTI

There are at least 10 patrolling points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh that have been blocked by Chinese troops, a senior government official told The Hindu.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed the Rajya Sabha on September 17 that face-offs with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) happened because “patrols were interrupted.” There was no commonly delineated LAC and there was an overlap in LAC’s perception in many areas, he noted.

The patrolling points (PPs) are the end points along the undefined LAC, up to which the Indian troops patrol after starting from their respective base camps.

Since April, Indian troops have been denied access to PPs number 9, 10, 11, 12, 12A, 13, 14, 15, 17, 17A. The blocked PPs span from the Depsang plains in the north to Pangong Tso (lake) in the south. In all, there are more than 65 PPs from the base of Karakoram to Chumar.

Since the LAC is undefined, the PPs are the best way to assert territorial claims. With that access blocked by the Chinese and as per the disengagement plans in the past few months when buffer zones were created, many areas have become out of bound for the Indian troops as of now,” said the official.

Untenable demands

us congressman deeply concerned about india china border crisis
Army patrol teams along the Line of Actual Control with China. File | Photo Credit: Dinakar Peri

Another official said that in the past, Chinese commanders had made untenable demands that India vacate an administrative post in Pangong and some heights near the Kurang nala.

As per the disengagement plan agreed between the Corps Commanders of India and China on June 30, the two sides agreed to pull back from all the friction points and decided that “depth areas” such as the Depsang plains in the north, where China has amassed troops, will be looked into. However, so far the Chinese transgression at Depsang has not been discussed and in none of the government statements it finds a mention.

As reported by The Hindu, about 1,000 sq. km. of surface area in Ladakh along the LAC is said to be under Chinese control, with Indian troops denied access to patrolling since early this year, the major part- 972 sq. km. lies in Depsang. Patrolling points 10-13, which have been obstructed, fall in Depsang.

The entire stretch along the LAC has witnessed “worrisome hardening of Chinese positions” since April-May, with China occupying a considerable area from Finger 4 to 8 near Pangong Tso. The distance between Finger 4-8, the mountainous spurs abutting the lake, is around 8 km. This was till now patrolled both by India and China as India’s perception of LAC ends at Finger 8.

The areas currently blocked by the Chinese have always been patrolled by the Indian troops. In all the meetings so far, we have demanded the restoration of status quo ante before April,” said the second official.

Five-point solution

us congressman deeply concerned about india china border crisis
Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of a meeting of the foreign ministers of the SCO in Moscow. Photo: AP/PTI via China's Xinhua News Agency)

After the foreign ministers of both countries – S. Jaishankar and Wang Yi, met in Moscow on September 10 and agreed on a five-point solution to ease the border tension, there has been no clarity on when the Corps Commanders will meet.

Since June, the Corps Commanders have met on five occasions- the latest one took place on August 2. The north and south banks of Pangong have witnessed firing in the air on multiple occasions since August 30, a first of its kind escalation since 1975.

On June 15, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent clashes with the Chinese./.

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