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India Accuses Chinese Troops of Attempting to Encroach Himalayan Border


India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Himalayan region of Ladakh, July 3, 2020. (India's Press Information Bureau/Handout via Reuters)

Indian authorities say their troops thwarted an attempt by Chinese soldiers to change the status quo in the northern Ladakh region, where both sides have been locked in a tense standoff along their disputed Himalayan border for more than four months. China has dismissed the allegations.

An Indian army statement Monday said Chinese troops violated the previous consensus and "carried out provocative military movements” but gave no details of what appeared to be a fresh flare-up along the border.

The statement said that the incident took place Saturday and that Indian troops “preempted this PLA activity on the southern bank of Pangong Tso Lake, undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground.”

The statement said India was committed to dialogue but was “also equally determined to protect its territorial integrity.”

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a news briefing that Chinese border troops "always strictly abide by the Line of Actual Control, and never cross the line," referring to the undemarcated border between the countries. He said both sides are in communication regarding the situation on the ground. The Line of Actual Control divides their territory.

The strategic Pangong Tso Lake lies at a height of more than 4,200 meters in eastern Ladakh, a barren icy desert where both sides have deployed large contingents of troops since a faceoff in April. It is one of the main points of friction between the countries whose tensions have flared since they accused each other of violations along the Line of Actual Control.

Beijing and New Delhi have been holding military and diplomatic talks to resolve their territorial dispute but there has been little progress so far.

Tensions between the two Asian countries have spiked since mid-June, when their deadliest border clash in 50 years left 20 Indian soldiers dead in Galwan Valley, also in Ladakh. Although troops have disengaged here, they continue to confront each other at several other points such as Pangong Tso Lake.

China's Defense Ministry spokesperson, Colonel Wu Qian, said in a statement last week that “keeping in mind the big picture” of bilateral ties, India and China need to avoid “misjudgment” and take “concrete steps to bring bilateral relations back to the right track of normal development."

Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava told reporters on Friday that complete disengagement requires re-deployment of troops by each side towards their regular posts on their respective sides.

The status of large stretches of the border region has remained unresolved since India and China fought a war in 1962.

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