Indian and Chinese troops clash on disputed border
Indian and Chinese troops clashed on their disputed Himalayan border, the first known incident between the two nuclear-armed Asian powers in nearly two years.
In a statement, India’s Defense Ministry said soldiers from both sides were lightly injured in the standoff, which took place Friday in the Tawang sector in northeastern Indian Territory of India. Arunachal Pradesh, a remote and inhospitable region that borders southern China.
The disputed 2,100-mile (3,379 kilometer) border has long been a source of friction between New Delhi and Beijing, with tensions escalating sharply in June 2020 when hand-to-hand fighting between the two sides resulted in deaths of at least 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese soldiers in Aksai Chin-Ladakh.
In the latest incident, Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops “contacted” the Line of Effective Control (LAC) – the de facto border – which was contested by Indian Army troops “from firm and resolute manner,” according to the Indian Department of Defense statement obtained by CNN.
The two sides “immediately disengaged from the area” and the respective country commanders held a flag meeting to discuss the matter “in accordance with structured mechanisms to restore peace and tranquility”, the statement said. China has yet to officially comment on the incident.
Speaking to Members of Parliament last week ahead of the skirmish, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said India “diplomatically” had been “very clear” with China that it “would not tolerate attempts at unilateral change” of the LAC.
“And as long as they continue to seek to do so, and if they have built up forces, which in our minds is a serious concern in the border areas, then our relationship is not normal,” Jaishankar said. , in response to a question about China-India relations, adding that military commanders “continue to engage”.
India and China went to war over their border regions in 1962, eventually establishing the LAC. But the two countries do not agree on its precise location and both regularly accuse the other of exceeding it, or of seeking to extend their territory. There have been a series of mostly non-fatal scuffles over the position of the border in the years since, including as recently as 2021, according to an Indian Army statement at the time.
In September, the Indian government said Indian and Chinese troops had started to disengage from the Gogra-Hotsprings border area in the western Himalayas, two years after border clashes strained diplomatic relations.
The statement preceded a regional summit in Uzbekistan attended by both Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Activities in the region remain closely monitored by both sides.
On Nov. 30, China’s Foreign Ministry criticized joint high-altitude drills between US and Indian troops in Uttarakhand, northern India, saying the drills had “not helped strengthen bilateral trust” and that Beijing had expressed its concerns to New Delhi.
China has been wary of India’s ties with the United States in recent years as China-US relations crumbled and the Quadruple Security Dialogue, which includes India, the United States and American allies, Japan and Australia, became more active.
Modi and Chinese leader Xi last met at the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Bali last month, where the two shook hands but did not meet bilaterally.