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India Lodges Protest against China’s Constructions in Shaksgam Valley

India Lodges Protest against China’s Constructions in Shaksgam Valley

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NEW DELHI, May 2: India has registered its protest with China against their ‘illegal attempts to alter facts’ in connection with Beijing’s construction activities in the Shaksgam Valley, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.

China has invested in the construction of military infrastructure in the Shaksgam Valley, reports suggested.

Responding to a question of infrastructure construction in lower Shaksgam Valley in Kashmir by China, MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal, in his weekly briefing said, “The Shaksgam Valley is a part of the territory of India. We have never accepted the so-called China Pakistan Boundary Agreement of 1963 through which Pakistan unlawfully attempted to cede the area to China, and have consistently conveyed our rejection of the same. We have registered our protest with the Chinese side against illegal attempts to alter facts on the ground.”

Mr Jaiswal further said India reserved the right to take necessary measures to safeguard the country’s interests. The MEA statement comes after recent media reports suggested China’s road breaching the Indian border at Aghil Pass and entered the lower Shaksgam valley of Kashmir, less than 48 kilometres away from Siachen. Satellite images showed the Chinese road approaching Aghil Pass, with construction resuming this month advancing towards areas north of Siachen Glacier.

The Shaksgam valley in the trans-Karakoram tract, part of PoK, was handed over on a platter by a supine Pakistan to China through an illegal border agreement on March 2, 1963. However, the continuing Chinese occupation of Kashmir’s territory does not find adequate mention in the contemporary discourse surrounding this issue.

China occupies 5,180 square kilometres in the Shaksgam Valley in addition to approximately 38,000 square kilometres in Aksai Chin. China and Pakistan have colluded to obfuscate these facts, even as they brazenly promote the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which runs through parts of Indian territory under their respective occupation.

The development comes against the backdrop of the dragging India-China military standoff in Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which has taken bilateral relations to a six-decade low. The standoff began almost four years ago and the Indian side has said bilateral ties cannot be normalised without the restoration of peace and tranquillity on the LAC.

Shaksgam Valley is part of the territory of India and the country has consistently conveyed its rejection of the China Pakistan Boundary Agreement. “This is a vexed issue. We have stated our position very clearly as to how we see developments in that part. Shaksgam Valley is our territory and we have been protesting as and when required,” Jaiswal said.

The Shaksgam Tract, which includes the Shaksgam Valley, is an area of 5,200 sq km north of the Karakoram watershed that has been illegally occupied by China since 1963. It was earlier occupied by Pakistan since 1947. Shaksgam Valley is claimed by India as part of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Recent satellite images have suggested that the Chinese side has built a road that has entered the lower part of the Shaksgam Valley, and has reached a location less than 50 km from the Siachen glacier, which is held by India. Work on the road began in the summer of 2023 and much of the basic construction was completed late last year. The Chinese side carried out further construction work this month.

Responding to a separate question on the status of India-China ties, Jaiswal said the Indian side has made its point very clear on this issue. While there are ongoing talks at the diplomatic and military levels to tackle the standoff on the LAC, “these are serious issues and therefore they take time”, he said.

(Manas Dasgupta)


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