India, China border dispute shows signs of heating up

Pangong Tso in Ladakh


The Indian Army rushed fighting formations to northern frontier states after China built up its troop formations all across its 2,520-mile border with India, Indian media reported Thursday, a day after the two countries seemed to signal a de-escalation in their ongoing border dispute.

The two countries Wednesday held high-level military talks, which are reportedly to be followed by a series of such talks between local-level troop commanders.

At a press conference Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying seemed to confirm the de-escalation.

“Through diplomatic and military channels, China and India have recently had effective communication and reached agreement on properly handling the situation in the west section of the China-India boundary. At present, the two sides are taking actions in line with the agreement to ameliorate the border situation,” Hua said when news agency AFP asked for confirmation of Indian media reports that Chinese and Indian border troops were disengaging and moving back from three locations in the west section of China-India boundary.

The two countries are divided by the Line of Actual Control or LAC in Ladakh, which New Delhi and Beijing have differing views of, a small undisputed portion in the centre, ad the MacMahon Line in the east.

The current standoff was focused around the Pagong Tso (in photograph on top), a high-altitude lake in Ladakh that straddles both countries and is also a tourist draw which served as a locale in the hit Bollywood film 3 Idiots. However, there have also been reports of Chinese “intrusion” in Sikkim, much further east.

The latest news about Chinese troop build up also encompasses Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh as well.

Two days ago, June 8, Hua had been asked by Indian news agency PTI how China viewed the military-level talks on the border dispute.

The spokesperson had said: “On the afternoon of June 6, Chinese and Indian military officials held commander-level talks in the border personnel meeting point at Moldo to discuss ways to resolve matters related to the recent border situation and safeguard peace and stability in the border area. Recently China and India have been in close communication through diplomatic and military channels regarding the border situation. Both sides agree to implement the important consensus of the two leaders, avoid escalation of differences into disputes, work together to uphold peace and tranquility in the border area, and create favorable atmosphere for the sound and stable development of bilateral relations. Currently the overall situation in the border area is stable and controllable. Both sides have the willingness and capability to properly resolve the related matters through negotiation and consultation.”

Indian media reports, mostly quoting unnamed senior military officers and government officials, said troops of both China and India had “moved back”, but added that the buildup could take a month to dismantle.

The current standoff began early May with the Indian military reporting clashes with Chinese troops.

Indian defense minister Rajnath Singh, in an interview to a TV news channel June 2, had said that a “a sizeable number of Chinese troops have come”.

No gunfire has reportedly been exchanged between the troops.

President Donald Trump had May 29 announced that Indian prime minister Narendra Modi was “not in a good mood about what’s going on with China.” Trump had called it a “raging border dispute” and offered to mediate.

India media reported within hours that Trump ad Modi had not spoken since April 4. Trump and Modi later spoke June 2, and the Indian government said they had discussed “the situation on the India-China border”.


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