INTERNATIONAL DESK: Chinese defence minister Li Shangfu is scheduled to take part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers’ meeting planned to be held in the ensuing week, defence officials said.
The Pakistani side is yet to confirm their participation in the meeting, they said.
The SCO Defence Ministers’ meeting is scheduled to be held on April 27 and 28.
Following the 2020 Galwan Valley clashes, this is the first time that a Chinese Defence Minister will visit India.
Li Shangfu, a US-sanctioned general, was named as China’s new Defence Minister a month ago. Li has been under US sanctions since 2018 and his appointment comes at a time of increasingly strained relations between Beijing and Washington, reported CNN.
Li Shangfu, an aerospace expert, was voted unanimously by the country’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress to replace outgoing defence chief Wei Fenghe.
China and India have a long history of border transgressions and a recent one was witnessed in December 2022 in Arunachal Pradesh. Regarding the same, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on December 13, 2022, informed both Houses of parliament that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops tried to transgress the Line of Actual Control in the Yangtse area of Arunachal Pradesh Tawang Sector and unilaterally change the status quo but they went back to their locations due to timely intervention of Indian military commanders.
The scuffle led to injuries to a few personnel on both sides and there are no fatalities or serious casualties on our side, Rajnath Singh had said.
Prior to that, a clash was witnessed in Galwan in June 2020 when the Chinese troops tried to aggressively change the status quo on LAC in eastern Ladakh. The clash took place along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh following a standoff over the actions of the Chinese Army. Twenty Indian soldiers died in the Galwan Valley clash which was fought in hand-to-hand combat in sub-zero temperatures on the near pitch-black night of June 15 and June 16, 2020.
The clash was the deadliest confrontation between India and China in over four decades. China’s state media has almost entirely failed to cover the skirmish or its aftermath.
However, after the Galwan clash in 2020, several rounds of military and diplomatic talks have taken place to resolve the standoff. Disengagement at some border points did take place but by and large, there is an impasse on complete disengagement.
Delhi and Beijing reached an agreement in February 2021 to disengage from the 135-km Pangong Lake, creating buffer zones until all outstanding border issues are resolved, Sputnik, a Russian-based media agency reported earlier. Over 50,000 Indian soldiers had been stationed since 2020 at forward posts along the LAC, with advanced weapons to prevent any attempts to change the status quo unilaterally on the LAC.
After the SCO Defence Ministers’ meeting, a meeting of the Foreign Minister is scheduled to be held on May 5 in Goa. Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is all set to take part in the same.
The SCO member countries are India, Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan. (TOI)