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China's bridge on Pangong lake in illegally-held area: Govt in Parliament

 

The Government on Friday told the Parliament that a bridge being constructed by China across the Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh is in an area that is under the illegal occupation of that country since 1962. It added that it expects other countries to respect India's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said in Lok Sabha that India's approach in talks with China over the eastern Ladakh standoff is guided by three key principles.

The principles, he said, are that both sides should strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control; neither side should attempt to alter the status quo unilaterally, and all agreements between the two sides must be fully abided by in their entirety.

The comments came a day after India decided to diplomatically boycott the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Winter Olympics over China fielding a military officer involved in the Galwan Valley clash as a torchbearer for the mega sporting event.

"The government has taken note of a bridge being constructed by China on Pangong lake. This bridge is being constructed in areas that have continued to be under the illegal occupation of China since 1962," Muraleedharan said.

He said India has never accepted this illegal occupation. "The government has made it clear on several occasions that the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are an integral part of India and we expect other countries to respect India's sovereignty and territorial integrity," he added.

On the eastern Ladakh border row, Muraleedharan India and China have maintained dialogue through both diplomatic and military channels for disengagement in the remaining areas.

"Our approach in these talks has been and will continue to be guided by three key principles, that, (i) both sides should strictly respect and observe the LAC (ii) neither side should attempt to alter the status quo unilaterally; and (iii) all agreements between the two sides must be fully abided by in their entirety," he said.

Muraleedharan said the last round of talks between the senior commanders of India and China was held on January 12 and they agreed that both sides should follow the guidance provided by their leaders and work for the resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest as this would help in the restoration of peace and tranquillity in the region and enable progress in bilateral ties.

Satellite images of the bridge being built in the Khurnak area surfaced last month following which military experts said that the aim of it is to ensure that the Chinese PLA is able to quickly mobilise its troops in the region.

China has been focusing on strengthening its military infrastructure after Indian troops captured several strategic peaks on the southern bank of the Pangong lake in August 2020 after the Chinese PLA attempted to intimidate them in the area.

Muraleedharan also said that the government has noted reports of renaming of some places by China in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

China continues to be in illegal occupation of approximately 38,000 square km of Indian territory in the Union Territory of Ladakh for the last six decades, the government said in Lok Sabha on Friday.

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