Describing the Chinese action in eastern Ladakh as “unprovoked aggression”, Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Monday hailed the Indian armed forces for fighting the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with utmost bravery and forcing them to go back.

Addressing the valedictory session of the FICCI annual conclave here, he said, “There is a big build-up of armed forces at the Line of Actual Control(LAC) in Ladakh. In these testing times our forces have shown exemplary courage and remarkable fortitude.”

The aggression by China on Himalayan frontiers was a reminder of how the world was changing, how existing agreements were being challenged, how power was being asserted not just in the Himalayas but across the Indo-Pacific, he said in a scathing attack on China for its behaviour in recent months.

“The coming generations of this nation will be proud of what our forces have managed to achieve this year,” he added.

Singh said there could be a serious debate on who owned more military might vis a vis India and China but there was no scope of ambiguity when it came to soft power. “India is far ahead of China when it comes to leading the world with ideas.”

He also lashed out at Pakistan, saying India has been a victim of crossborder terrorism sponsored by its neighbour. But India has fought the scourge single handedly even when there was no one to support the country. Later, the world understood that India was right about Pakistan being the fountainhead of terrorism.

India, due to its location, size, population and economy, has always been at the strategic forefront of global security, he said. “And now again our brave forces are there in the forefront fighting icy winds to guard our borders and to fulfill their responsibility. The question is: can our industry also stand shoulder to shoulder with our forces? he asked.