Chinese Defence Minister participate in SCO Defence Ministers’ meet, Pak participation not yet confirmed

23 April, 2023 | Vaishali Sharma

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According to defence officials, Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu will attend the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers' meeting.

According to defence officials, Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu will attend the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers’ meeting.

According to them, the Pakistani side has yet to confirm their participation in the meeting. The meeting of the SCO Defence Ministers is scheduled for April 27 and 28. Following the 2020 Galwan Valley clashes, this will be the first visit to India by a Chinese Defence Minister.

A month ago, China’s new Defence Minister was named Li Shangfu, a US-backed general. Li has been sanctioned by the US since 2018, and his appointment comes at a time when relations between Beijing and Washington are becoming increasingly strained, according to CNN.

Li Shangfu, an aerospace expert, was unanimously elected to replace outgoing defence chief Wei Fenghe by the country’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress.

China and India have a long history of border violations, the most recent of which occurred in Arunachal Pradesh in December 2022. In this regard, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed both Houses of Parliament on December 13, 2022, that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops attempted to cross the Line of Actual Control in the Yangtse area of Arunachal Pradesh Tawang Sector and unilaterally change the status quo, but were forced to retreat due to timely intervention by Indian military commanders.

The scuffle injured a few personnel on both sides, but there were no fatalities or serious casualties on our side, according to Rajnath Singh.

Prior to that, a clash occurred in Galwan in June 2020 when Chinese troops attempted to aggressively change the status quo on the Ladakh-Arunachal border in eastern Ladakh. Following a standoff over the Chinese Army’s actions, the clash occurred along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the Galwan Valley clash, which took place in hand-to-hand combat in sub-zero temperatures on the night of June 15 and 16, 2020.

The clash was the deadliest in over four decades between India and China. The incident and its aftermath were almost entirely ignored by China’s state media.

However, following the Galwan clash in 2020, several rounds of military and diplomatic talks were held to end the standoff. Disengagement occurred at some border points, but overall, there is an impasse on complete disengagement.

According to Sputnik, a Russian-based news agency, Delhi and Beijing agreed in February 2021 to disengage from the 135-kilometer-long Pangong Lake, creating buffer zones until all outstanding border issues are resolved.

Since 2020, over 50,000 Indian soldiers have been stationed at forward posts along the LAC, armed with advanced weapons to prevent any unilateral attempts to change the status quo on the LAC.
Following the SCO Defence Ministers’ meeting, a Foreign Ministers’ meeting is scheduled for May 5 in Goa. Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is expected to attend.

India, Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan are SCO members.