London, November 4
India will not compromise on its territorial integrity, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said, noting that China’s “unusual step” to “unilaterally” alter the status quo has contributed to the deterioration of the bilateral ties.
Shringla, who is on a seven-day trip to Europe to review bilateral relations and discuss matters of mutual interest with key European nations, was responding to a question on the recent border tensions with China in eastern Ladakh during an interview to a German news channel.
“It has contributed to deterioration in terms of the ties between our two countries because of the unusual step of China to seek to unilaterally alter the status quo,” Shringla told DW News.
“You have to keep in mind that there is no common perception on the border but yet if you seek to change where the current line where troops are then of course it does impact on the larger relationship. We are concerned that China has taken this step,” he added.
The situation in eastern Ladakh deteriorated following at least three attempts by Chinese soldiers to “intimidate” Indian troops along the northern and southern bank of Pangong lake area between August 29 and September 8 where even shots were fired in the air for the first time at the LAC in 45 years.
“We are very, very clear that we will stand firm and resolute in our resolve not to allow our territorial integrity or sovereignty to be compromised,” Shringla said.
“We have not allowed any of this to take place. Our troops have stood resolute,” he said. “We will not compromise on our territorial integrity.” Responding to a question on the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad – comprising Japan, India, Australia and the US, Shringla said that it is a grouping of countries which have the same vision of a free, open and transparent Indo-Pacific region and international rules-based order, international freedom navigation in global commerce and also issues such as open connectivity, respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.
The evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific region in the wake of China’s increasing military muscle-flexing has become a major talking point among leading global powers.
China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Beijing has also made substantial progress in militarising its man-made islands in the past few years.
Beijing claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. But Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims. In the East China Sea, China has territorial disputes with Japan.
The Quad works to bolster the capacities and the abilities of the countries in the Indo Pacific within a manner that’s both constructive and cooperative, Shringla added.
Asked about Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent comments on India, Shringla said that it was an “attempt to distract international and domestic attention from its own problems.” “I can only say that is ripe coming from the prime minister of a country that does not recognise the state of Israel, that until now does not acknowledge that the Holocaust took place, that has provided a safe sanctuary for Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar of the Taliban years after 9/11,” he said.
“Considering his situation and Pakistan’s own approach towards radicalism, terrorism and issues that are important to the international community, he (Khan) really shouldn’t be making such irresponsible statements,” he added.
On a question about the recent developments in Hong Kong, Shringla said, “We don’t comment on what becomes the internal affairs of states. We have said that there is a large community of Indian origin, there is a large Indian community in Hong Kong, so we are watching the situation with some level of attention and concern and we will continue to do so”.
Shringla travelled to Germany from France early this week on the second leg of his three-nation European tour that also includes the UK. — PTI