Beijing has accused New Delhi of “severe military provocation” after the two have accused each other of firing warning shots during a confrontation Monday on their disputed border in the Himalayas known as the Line Of Actual Control (LAC).
India denies its soldiers crossed the disputed border which saw an incident earlier this year in Galwan Valley of hand-to-hand combat in the Ladakh region on June 15th in which 20 Indian troops and 43 Chinese troops were killed, Anewspost previously reported. This latest incident marks the first time shots have been fired along the Sino-Indian border in more than four decades. Both sides have blamed the other for violating agreements.
A 1996 agreement between both countries bars the use of guns and explosives from the Line of Actual Control (LAC.)
In May, China was accused of building up troops and artillery along the border and engaging in unusual movements, which India considered to be a violation of its sovereign territory.
Following the June 2020 border clash, senior retired Indian diplomats argued that situation marked the “end of a chapter in relations,” and that “the entire architecture [of border and military agreements between China and India] has collapsed,” with “very serious repercussions.”
Now, those tensions have flared up once again. In a statement on Monday night, a spokesperson for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Western Theater Command said Indian troops “illegally crossed” the Line of Actual Control (LAC), New York Times reported.
“The Indian troops brazenly fired warning shots at Chinese border patrols troops who came up to negotiate, and the Chinese border troops were forced to take countermeasures to stabilize the situation,” said Senior Colonel Zhang Shuili, the Chinese military spokesperson, without specifying what those “countermeasures” were.
Colonel Shuili called the action a “serious military provocation.” Shuili further asked the Indian side to “immediately stop dangerous actions … strictly restrain frontline troops and seriously investigate and punish personnel who fired shots to ensure similar incidents do not occur again.”
On Tuesday, the Indian army rejected China’s accusations and called the statement “an attempt to mislead their domestic and international audience.” Adding that the Indian troops had “exercised great restraint and behaved in a mature and responsible manner,” and instead accused the Chinese military of “blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive maneuvers.”
“At no stage has the Indian Army transgressed across the LAC or resorted to use of any aggressive means, including firing,” the statement said.
India previously warned its Army to “prepare for war” if the conflict between India and China escalated as Anewspost reported. In addition, the India Navy was also given orders to deploy its assets near the Malacca Strait, and, if needed, anywhere else in the Indo-Pacific to counter the Chinese, the India Economic Times reported.
Following the previous incident, Indias Army also released new rules of engagement with China on the LAC, “In future, if they carry clubs, so will our soldiers. If they use rocks, so will we. Rules need to be followed equally by both sides,” an India military source told India Today.
China and India have been sparring over the area that surrounds the Pangong Tso Lake since the two fought a bloody border war in 1962. The Line of Actual Control, which passes through the lake, was established in the wake of the original conflict. Though it shows up on maps, India and China do not agree on its precise location and both regularly accuse the other of overstepping it, or seeking to expand their territory.
In 1996, the two countries signed an agreement that states that neither side shall open fire within 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from the LAC to “prevent dangerous military activities.”
That was among a series of agreements signed by China and India since 1993 to “keep forces at the minimum level at the border” and “shape the behavior of troops,” said Indian’s Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
“If these are not observed, then it raises very, very important questions. At this moment, I note that this very serious situation has been going on since the beginning of May,” Jaishankar said at an event on Monday.
The previous altercation in June happened after a failed diplomatic meeting, as part of military commitments to de-escalate tensions on the disputed border.
The situation was temporarily resolved after the two sides engaged in talks and withdrew soldiers from the LAC. But tensions flared again last week when Delhi and Beijing accused each other’s troops of carrying out provocative actions near Pangong Tso. During that incident, at least one soldier with India’s special forces was reportedly killed, The Guardian reported.
The two sides have pledged multiple times to disengage however at least five rounds of high military-level talks have failed to resolve the ongoing dispute.
Meanwhile, more negotiations between Indian and Chinese officials failed with a recent meeting last Friday in a bid to deescalate tensions. The Chinese and Indian defense ministers met on the sidelines at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Moscow, and the two countries’ foreign ministers are scheduled to meet there again on Thursday. However, multiple other online sources have indicated there have been meetings since Monday’s live firing issue.
Amid flaring heightened moves India also recently accused China of abducting five men three days ago, stating the People’s Liberation Army was responsible for the kidnapping near the disputed border in Arunachal Pradesh, known to China as “South Tibet.” The incident took place amid talks between India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe in Moscow.
Indian media has since reported that a process to release the five youths was underway. After China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had confirmed that five youth from Arunachal Pradesh who went missing three days ago were found on their side of the border.
U.S. President Donald Trump was recently asked about the dispute at a news briefing at the White House, in which he said Washington was in communication with both countries about what it could do to help defuse the situation.
“We stand ready to help with respect to China and India. If we can do anything, we would love to get involved and help,” he said.
U.S President Donald Trump told reporters the ongoing tensions were a “very nasty” conflict as “the two countries were going at it much more strongly than a lot of people even understand.”
Trump has offered to mediate as a middle man between the two nuclear-armed nations in the past. However, both China and India have dismissed the idea stating said that there is no need for a third party to mediate the situation.
Both countries seem to have amassed troops along the border, deploying additional forces after the clash in June, with reports of more troops headed to the LAC. The two countries have been trying to settle their border dispute since at least the early 1990s.
The war drums seem to be beating loud between India and China with multiple causalities thus far and things have escalated with warning shots fired into the air, as the two nations play a dangerous game of tug a war with the LAC border.