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Defence & Aerospace

Chinese and Indian soldiers face-off in Ladakh

Indian Soldier in Ladakh

An Indian soldier stands guard along the Pangong Tso in Ladakh.

Soldiers of India and China were engaged in a face-off near Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh on Wednesday, which ended after a local delegation-level meeting, Army sources said.

“An Indian Army team that was on patrol near Pangong Tso was objected to by the Chinese side. Our soldiers held ground as they were on our territory,” an Army source said.

A delegation-level meeting was immediately called at the Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) point in Chusul, after which the issue was resolved, the source explained.

Bilateral relations between India and China have been tense after New Delhi revoked special privileges to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 last month. Beijing had specifically objected to the conversion of Ladakh into a Union Territory and also supported Pakistan’s diplomatic moves at the United Nations.

Transgressions are a common feature along the unsettled Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the two sides have instituted several mechanisms to resolve such issues. BPMs by local commanders at designated points along the LAC are called by either side.

While the LAC has remained largely peaceful, there has been a pattern of stand-offs ahead of major bilateral visits between the two countries. This incident comes close to the proposed visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to India for the second informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October.

“There has been an overall reduction in face-offs between the two armies,” one source observed. Army sources stated earlier that after the Wuhan informal summit between Mr. Modi and Mr. Jinping last year, the Armies were told to avoid face-offs during patrols that each side conducts to enforce their claims. Accordingly, patrols were broadly timed to not run into the opposite side, sources added.

China holds a large part of Pangong Tso, which has seen face-offs in the past both over land and on the water as both sides patrol on speed boats. For instance, in August 2017, a video surfaced of a scuffle between the armies, in which several hundred soldiers were seen hurling stones at each other.

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