China continues to be in an illegal occupation of approximately 38,000 sq. km in the Union territory of Ladakh, Union defence minister told the Parliament on Tuesday.

The Union defence minister also told the Parliament: “China claims 90,000 sq km of Indian territory in Eastern Sector of the India-China boundary in Arunachal Pradesh.”

“In addition, under the so-called Sino-Pakistan ‘Boundary Agreement’ of 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 sq km of Indian territory in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to China,” Singh told the Parliament.

Singh said “no one should doubt our determination to safeguard our borders” as India believes that mutual respect and mutual sensitivity are the basis for peaceful relations with neighbours.

“As we want to resolve the current situation through dialogue, we have maintained diplomatic and military engagement with the Chinese side,” the defence minister said.

Both India and China have formally agreed that the boundary question is a complex issue which requires patience and have committed to seeking a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution through dialogue and peaceful negotiations, Singh said.

In the interim, the two sides also agree that the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas is an essential basis for the further development of bilateral relations.

Singh alleged that as the discussions were going on, the Chinese side again engaged in provocative military manoeuvers on the night of August 29-30 in an attempt to change the status quo in the South Bank area of Pangong Lake.

“But yet again, timely and firm actions by our armed forces along the LAC prevented such attempts from succeeding,” he said.

The defence minister apprised the House: “Since April, we had noticed a buildup of troops and armaments by the Chinese side in the border areas adjacent to Eastern Ladakh. In early May, the Chinese side had taken action to hinder the normal, traditional patrolling pattern of our troops in the Galwan Valley area, which resulted in a face-off.”

“Even as this situation was being addressed by the Ground Commanders as per the provisions of our bilateral agreements and protocol, in mid-May the Chinese side made several attempts to transgress the LAC in other parts of the Western Sector.

“This included Kongka La, Gogra and North Bank of Pangong Lake. These attempts were detected early and consequently responded to appropriately by our armed forces,” he added.

Speaking on the June face-off, Singh said: “Given the growing friction along the LAC, the Senior Commanders of the two sides in a meeting on June 6, 2020 agreed on a process of disengagement that involved reciprocal actions.”

“Both sides also agreed to respect and abide by the LAC and not undertake any activity to alter the status quo.  However, in violation of this, the Chinese side created a violent face-off on June 15 at Galwan. Our brave soldiers laid down their lives and also inflicted costs including casualties on the Chinese side,” he added.

He said “India remains committed to resolving the current issues in our border areas through peaceful dialogue and consultations. It was in pursuit of this objective that I met my Chinese counterpart on September 4 in Moscow and had an in-depth discussion with him”.

“I conveyed in clear terms our concerns related to the actions of the Chinese side, including amassing of large number of troops, their aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo that were in violation of the bilateral agreements,” Singh said.

“I also made it clear that even as we wanted to peacefully resolve the issue and would like the Chinese side to work with us, there should also be no doubt about our determination to protect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the defence minister said.

He also informed that External Affairs Minister Jai Shankar met the Chinese Foreign Minister in Moscow on September 10.

“The two have reached an agreement that, if implemented sincerely and faithfully by the Chinese side, could lead to complete disengagement and restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas,” Singh told the Parliament.

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