THE border tensions between China and India have escalated once again, after hundreds of Chinese troops crossed into Indian territory. Soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) breached the Indian border at multiple locations in the northern Himalayan region of Ladakh, Legal Insurrection news website quoted Indian media as saying on Saturday, May 23, 2020.
“Chinese had managed to come well inside the Indian territory and are also conducting aggressive patrols with motor boats in the Pangong lake,” Indian broadcaster NDTV reported. “The Chinese troops crossed 3 km into what India perceives to be its territory South East of the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh,” Indian news website The Print confirmed.
The Chinese detained several Indian soldiers during the incursion. “An Indian patrol party was detained and later released by Chinese forces,” NDTV reported. The Indian military refused to comment on the incident.
On Sunday, the NDTV reported the detention of Indian soldiers as follows:
“An Indian patrol party was detained and later released by Chinese forces after a scuffle between the two sides in Ladakh earlier this week, sources have told NDTV amid rising tensions between the two countries along the Line of Actual Control. The situation was finally defused after a border meeting of commanders from both sides.
“The Indian forces have briefed the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), detailing the entire sequence of events that took place on near the Pangong lake.
“The situation became very volatile last Wednesday when a scuffle between Indian jawans (troops) and the Chinese resulted in detention of some of our jawans but later they were released,” a senior bureaucrat told NDTV.
The border intrusion was followed by a Chinese build-up along the Indian border. Chinese troops “trespassed on Indian territory at three different locations and set up fortified encampments,” Indian strategic expert Brahma Chellaney noted on Twitter.
The newspaper Times of India reported the Chinese military build up as follows:
“Chinese military is fast increasing its troops in areas around Pangong Tso lake and Galwan Valley along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, sending a clear signal that it was not ready to end its confrontation with the Indian Army anytime soon, people familiar with the situation in the disputed region said.
“The Chinese side has particularly bolstered its presence in the Galwan Valley, erecting around 100 tents in the last two weeks and bringing in machinery for possible construction of bunkers, notwithstanding the stiff protest by Indian troops, they said. (…)
“Military sources said the Indian Army has also been matching up to the Chinese build-up in both Pangong Tso lake and Galwan Valley and that it is in a much advantageous position in certain other sensitive areas in the region.
The United States backed India amid recent aggressive actions by the Chinese army. Ambassador Alice Wells, the senior U.S. diplomat for South and Central Asia, called Beijing’s behavior towards India provocative and disturbing. “The flare-ups on the border, I think, are a reminder that Chinese aggression is not always just rhetorical. And so whether it’s on the South China Sea or whether it’s along the border with India we continue to see provocations and disturbing behavior by China that raises questions about how China seeks to use its growing power,” she said on Wednesday.
China and India have a long history of border conflicts. Communist China disputes parts of its 2,200 mile Himalayan border with New Delhi. Chinese dictator Mao Zedong made sweeping territorial claims on India after annexing the Buddhist kingdom of Tibet which shared its western border with India. China attacked India in 1962, a war that ended in a devastating defeat for India, which lost around 16,600 square miles of its territory.
India faces the Chinese threat not just on its eastern and northern borders. The military planners in New Delhi are alarmed by Beijing’s so-called string-of-pearls strategy. China is gaining control over a network of strategic ports stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Persian Gulf, giving the Chinese Navy the ability to close India’s shipping lanes in case of a conflict.
The current wave of Chinese aggression in the wake of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic is not limited to India. In recent months, the Chinese air force has repeatedly violated Taiwan’s air space, an independent nation which Beijing considers a breakaway province.
Top: Chinese troops during a military parade. Photo: Legal Insurrection
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