Indian, Chinese soldiers engage in face-off briefly in Ladakh

Tensions between Indian and Chinese border troops intensified once again as soldiers of India and China were engaged in a prolonged face-off near Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh. The confrontation began on northern bank of 134-km-long Pangong Tso, two-thirds (nearly 66%) of which is controlled by China as it extends into Tibet.

Key Highlights

The patrolling Indian troops were confronted by People’s Liberation Army (China) soldiers, who objected to their presence near Pangong Tso. This then led to a scuffle between two sides.

As the Indian troops held their ground arguing that they were on their territory, additional personnel were deployed. Following this both sides returned to their bases.

The face-off, however, was de-escalated later and disengaged fully after local delegation-level talks. India has lodged a complaint following which delegation-level meeting was immediately called at Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) point in Chusul (in Leh district) to resolve the issue.

Since transgressions are a common feature along unsettled Line of Actual Control (LAC), thus both sides have instituted several mechanisms to resolve such issues. BPMs by local commanders at designated points along LAC are called by either side.

Background

The Indian-Chinese troops scuffle comes a month ahead of major bilateral visits between PM Modi and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. This is not the first time that such an incident has occured.  In 2018, ahead of Modi-Xi Wuhan summit in April, Chinese troops allegedly breached the Line of Actual Control (LoA) 28 times.

Relations between two countries remain tense following China’s opposition to abrogation of Article 370 which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir. A day after Indian government declared J&K state a Union Territory and took away its special status, the Chinese Foreign Ministry put out a statement in strong opposition. Since then, China has been backing Pakistan in its criticism to India’s move.

China had specifically objected to conversion of Ladakh into a Union Territory and also supported Pakistan’s diplomatic moves at United Nations.

About Pangong Tso

It is a Tibetan name for ‘high grassland lake’

It is also called Pangong Lake.

It is is a long narrow, deep, endorheic (landlocked) lake situated at a height of about 4,350 m.

It is 134 km long and extends from India to Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), China.

It is a brackish water lake in Himalayas.

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