"Ladakh Union Territory Illegally Set Up" By India: China Amid Standoff

Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, also called border infrastructure development "the root cause for tension between the two sides" and said neither country should take action that might escalate tensions.

India-China Border Row: The two sides have been locked in a face-off in eastern Ladakh since May.

New Delhi:

After 44 new bridges in border areas were opened by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, China, in a sharp reaction, said today that it "does not recognize the Ladakh Union Territory illegally set up by India" and opposes infrastructure building in the region.

Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, also called border infrastructure development "the root cause for tension between the two sides" and said neither country should take action that might escalate tensions.

Zhao was asked to react to the series of bridges inaugurated in India, including eight in Ladakh and eight in Arunachal Pradesh.

"First I want to make it clear that China does not recognise the Ladakh Union Territory illegally set up by the Indian side and the Arunachal Pradesh. We stand against the development of infrastructure facilities aimed at military contention along the border area," said the Chinese spokesperson.

"Based on consensus, neither should take actions along the border that might escalate the situation that is to avoid undermining the efforts by the two sides to ease the situation."

He also said the Indian side "ramping up infrastructure development along the border and stepping up military deployment is the root cause for the tensions between the two sides".

"We urge the Indian side to earnestly implement our consensus and refrain from actions that might escalate the situation and take concrete measures to safeguard peace and tranquility along the border," said Zhao.

The new bridges will facilitate faster movement of troops and weapons closer to the border, officials said.

News of the bridges emerged as senior military officials of India and China met on Monday at Chushul in Ladakh for the seventh time to restore calm after several recent confrontations. The talks lasted for more than 11 hours and ended around 11:30 pm, reports say.

The joint statement after the talks had no mention of China's stand on Ladakh. The two sides said they agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement as early as possible. "Both sides agreed to earnestly implement the important understandings reached by the leaders of the two countries, not to turn differences into disputes, and jointly safeguard peace and tranquility in the border areas," said the statement.

Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in a face-off in eastern Ladakh since May and tension peaked in June when 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the line of duty in a clash with the Chinese at Galwan Valley. Last month, shots were fired in the air more than once as the two armies came face to face at Pangong Tso.