India has the strength for an appropriate response to any transgression or unilateral action on the borders but believes in finding a peaceful solution to any conflict, defence minister Rajnath Singh said on Saturday, while also taking a strong view of China’s actions along the de-facto border in Ladakh, where its troops are locked in a tense stand-off with Indian soldiers.

Singh made the remarks while addressing a combined graduation parade at the Indian Air Force Academy at Dundigal in Telangana, a day after India and China agreed to hold another meeting of senior military commanders to take forward the disengagement and de-escalation process along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

“You are all aware of the Indo-China standoff in the northern sector. China’s attitude amid a crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic reflects that country’s intention,” Singh said, speaking in Hindi after reviewing the passing-out parade.

“However, we have shown that our India is no longer a weak India. This is a new India that has the strength to give an appropriate and complete reply to any type of transgression or aggression or any type of unilateral action of the borders,” he added.

Several big countries, he said, had praised and supported the steps taken by India. “You will also be aware that we believe in finding a peaceful solution to any conflict through dialogue,” he said.

India and China are holding talks through military and diplomatic channels, he noted. “I would like to again say on this occasion that we want peace, not conflict. But we will not tolerate any attempt to hurt the self-respect of the country. We are fully prepared to deal with any kind of situation,” he said.

Following a meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs on Friday, there were no signs of an immediate breakthrough but the external affairs ministry said the two sides had agreed to hold another meeting of military commanders at an early date.

During his speech, Singh also criticised Pakistan for fighting a “proxy war” using terrorists even after being defeated in four conventional wars with India. Referring to last year’s air strike on Balakot within Pakistan, carried out in retaliation for a suicide bombing at Pulwama by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), he said this had shown that India is capable to targeting terrorists outside the country’s borders.

“In the same way in the western sector, on the borders with Pakistan, our neighbour is always up to some nefarious activities. Even after being defeated in not one but four wars, Pakistan is fighting a proxy war through terrorism. Our army, security forces and police are fighting the challenge of terrorism with full strength,” he said.

“India is taking effective action against terrorists not only within the country but on the borders and even across the borders. By taking effective action against terrorism in Balakot, the Indian Air Force showed the whole world India’s military strength and determination to fight terrorism,” he said.

Singh told the cadets who passed out of the academy that the ways of fighting wars are constantly changing and they would have to be scholars and soldiers to fight the wars of the future using advanced technologies and military strategies.

“The scope of these challenges too has become comprehensive. The challenges before the country are not just on the borders and on the seas, but they can come through space and cyberspace,” he said.

“I believe that defence in the coming days will not be limited to defence of the seas, land and air, this will be a dynamic challenge for which we will have to prepare ourselves.”

Singh added: “I advise you to learn from history, know the present and prepare for the future.”