NEW DELHI: India on Thursday hit out at China for claiming that the ongoing India-US ‘Yudh Abhyas’ military exercise in Uttarakhand violates Sino-Indian bilateral agreements for border peace and asked Beijing to reflect on its own breach of the pacts in the form of Chinese transgressions in eastern Ladakh. China sees the exercise near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) also as an effort by US to meddle in India-China border affairs. Responding to queries on the objections raised by China, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said India hasn’t given a “veto” to any third country on who to conduct a military exercise with. The exercise has nothing to do with the bilateral agreements, the government said. “But since these were raised by the Chinese side, I must emphasise that the Chinese side needs to reflect and think about its own breach of the agreements of 1993 and 1996,” said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi. “India exercises with whomever it chooses to and it does not give a veto to third countries on these issues.”
Beijing had earlier raised the issue with New Delhi saying that the joint military exercise held by India and the US near the LAC violated the “spirit of relevant agreements” signed by China and India in 1993 and 1996 and does not help build bilateral trust. The 1993 agreement deals with maintaining peace and tranquility along the LAC, while the 1996 pact was about confidence building measures in the military field along the LAC with China in the ‘India-China Border Areas’. Asked about protests in parts of China against prolonged lockdown to contain Covid infections, Bagchi said he would not comment on specific pandemic strategies pursued by any country. “We would hope that humanity as a whole is able to emerge fully from Covid at the earliest. But insofar as specific Covid strategies that each country may be pursuing, I might not like to get into that. Just…hope that we are able to come out of Covid,” he said.