NEW DELHI: Key military officials of India and China held a Border Personnel Meeting on Wednesday to discuss the People’s Liberation Army’s attempt to breach Ladakh. On Tuesday, soldiers from both sides got into a brawl along the Pangong Tso lake after Chinese troops tried to enter Indian territory. Two-thirds of the Pangong Lake is controlled by China and one-third by India.
According to sources, Tuesday’s episode was raised by both sides at the meeting held in Chushul sector of eastern Ladakh. “Strengthening of existing mechanisms to maintain peace and tranquillity was discussed,’ sources told Express.
Though the army refused to divulge details, sources indicated the meeting was ‘inconclusive’. The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said it was not aware of the “scuffle” between the two sides. “Chinese border troops are committed to maintaining peace and tranquillity along the Sino-India border,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.
“We urge the Indian side to scrupulously abide by relevant agreements, protocols and rules between the two countries and earnestly respect the 1959 line of control and earnestly protect the peace and stability of the border region,” she added.
Amid the current standoff, Beijing has offered a massive $1 million humanitarian assistance package to India’s neighbour Nepal and forged an agreement with the hill country to explore oil and gas resources - a move that is likely to irk India. Nepal has sought to remain neutral in the dispute between Beijing and New Delhi with the country’s Deputy Prime Minister saying it “will not take sides.”
“China is vigorously pushing forward the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, strengthening its relations with nations along the route, including Nepal. These efforts to enhance relations with South Asian nations will also mean more competition between China and India, to gain a more favourable and active position in the conflict,” said Zhang Guihong, a professor of international studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, speaking to South China Morning Post.
Tuesday’s incident comes against the backdrop of the two-month-old standoff between Chinese and Indian soldiers, who have been engaged in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation since June 16 after Indian troops objected to road construction by PLA soldiers in strategically-important Dokalam plateau near Sikkim border. In fact, Chinese troops did not attend the ceremonial Border Personnel Meeting on the occasion of India’s Independence Day, breaking a nearly two-decade-old tradition.
Now, all bets hinge on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China next month for the BRICS summit. Analysts hope the leaders will find a solution to the standoff during his visit.
Not aware of clash, claims Beijing
A day after Indian border guards foiled an attempt by Chinese troops to enter through Ladakh, China on Wednesday said it was not aware of such reports and maintained that it was committed to maintaining peace and tranquillity along the border
How the standoff escalated to stone-throwing
- Chinese troops had tried to enter India along the banks of the Pangong Lake and a two-hour-long standoff followed
- Chinese troops reportedly formed a human chain and hurled stones at Indian forces. No arms were used, but troops on both sides suffered minor injuries
- Chinese forces reportedly reached the Finger Four region, from where they were sent back. Both countries claim control over the territory
- The situation was brought under control after a drill in which both sides held up banners before stepping back to their respective positions
- Soldiers of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police held up a flag that read in Chinese: “This area belongs to us, please go back”, said sources
- The armies are already engaged in a standoff in Doklam, Sikkim, from where they are asking each other to withdraw
India had offered for both sides to withdraw and engage in dialogue. China refused the option, but maintained that diplomatic channels remain open