Chinese soldiers moved beyond Ladakh border

India has said its soldiers thwarted “provocative” movements by China’s military near a disputed border in the Ladakh region months into the rival nations’ deadliest standoff in decades.

China’s military said it was taking “necessary actions in response,” without giving details.

Local military commanders from the two countries were meeting along the disputed frontier to resolve the issues, India’s defence ministry said. It said India was committed to dialogue “but is also equally determined to protect its territorial integrity.”

The statement said China’s People’s Liberation Army on Saturday night “carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo” and “violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements” to settle the standoff in the cold-desert region.

An Indian army convoy travels on the Srinagar-Ladakh highway. India said its soldiers thwarted China’s “provocative” military movements near the disputed border. (AP)

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said border forces were communicating over recent matters but gave no details.

“Chinese border troops always act in strict compliance with the Line of Actual Control, and have never crossed the line for any activities,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing.

In a statement, China’s defence ministry accused Indian troops of crossing established lines of control and creating provocations along the southern shore of Pangong Lake and nearby areas.

“The Chinese military is now taking necessary actions in response, will closely follow developments and resolutely safeguard sovereignty over Chinese territory, along with peace and stability along the border,” it said.

India’s defence ministry issued its statement after a gap of a day and did not give details of the nature of the new incident.

Two Indian security officials said that over two dozen Chinese soldiers walked into Indian-held territory on Saturday night but were blocked by Indian troops and forced to go back.

A file photo of exile Tibetans shouting slogans against the Chinese government in New Delhi during a protest to show solidarity with India in the country’s standoff over the Ladakh region. (AP)

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations, said the incident did not involve a physical clash.

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The defence ministry’s statement said Indian troops “undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground.”

It said the activity took place on the southern bank of Pangong Lake, a glacial lake divided by the de-facto frontier between the rivals and where the India-China face off began in early May on the lake’s northern flank.

India unilaterally declared Ladakh a federal territory and separated it from disputed Kashmir in August 2019, ending its semi-autonomous status and straining the already prickly relationship between New Delhi and Beijing. China was among the countries to strongly condemn the move, raising it at international forums including the U.N. Security Council.

Indian soldiers fought Chinese forces during the 1962 war over the disputed region. (Supplied)

The face off began at three places. Soldiers at Pangong Lake ignored repeated verbal warnings, triggering a yelling match, stone-throwing and even fistfights. By June it escalated and spread north in Depsang and Galwan Valley, where India has built an all-weather military road along the disputed frontier.

On June 15, the troops engaged in a nighttime clash in Galwan that was the deadliest conflict in 45 years between the nuclear-armed rivals.

According to Indian officials, Chinese troops atop a ridge at the mouth of the narrow valley threw stones, punched and pushed Indian soldiers down the ridge at around 4500 metres, leaving 20 Indians dead, including a colonel.

China did not report any casualties, although unconfirmed reports based on photos of new burial grounds say Chinese losses may have topped three dozen.

Several rounds of military and diplomatic talks on ending the crisis have been unsuccessful.

In a symbolic move, India banned some Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok, about two weeks after the deadly clash, citing privacy concerns that it said pose a threat to India’s sovereignty and security.

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