Amidst a pandemic, both China and India have reportedly deployed troops in Ladakh as tensions flare up along the border
- India and China have deployed more troops along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh amid the coronavirus lockdown and worldwide pandemic.
- Chinese media blames India stating, “India is merely seeking to divert its domestic attention.”
- The development comes are two alterations along the Indo-Sino border — one in Ladakh and another in Sikkim — were reported earlier this month.
India fears this could turn into a flashpoint with Chinese troops pitching tents near the river and kicking off fresh construction, according to the report. There has been no immediate reaction from the Indian Army or the Ministry of External Affairs on these reports.
Not surprisingly, the Chinese media is blaming India. “India is merely seeking to divert its domestic attention and pressure since the COVID-19 pandemic impacted its economy,” analysts told Global Times. Experts in China believe that this won’t turn into another standoff like the one in Doklam in 2017.
This is not the first flare-up this month
The 4,057-kilometer Line of Actual Control (LAC) is a recurring issue for both countries. And, such skirmishes aren’t uncommon and most pass off peacefully. However, earlier this month on May 5, there was a violent clash between the Indian Army and the China People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the northern part of Pangong Tso lake that left many injured — on both sides. Such physical altercations are rare.
On May 9, another standoff occurred along the border in North Sikkim — an area where no alterations have been reported in recent years. Indian soldiers formed a human chain to stand their ground as Chinese soldiers tried to push them back. Once reinforcements arrived, fistfights and pelting of stones ensued.
“The Indian side remains committed to the objective of maintaining peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on May 14.
Both of the recent incidents, in Lakadh and Sikkim, will likely be discussed at the next border meeting between the two armies.
The Line of Actual Control
The central point of contention is that Beijing does not recognise India’s border with Tibet that was demarcated before 1947 by the British and Tibetan authorities. China maintains that Tibet is an integral part of its territory and the demarcation was not sanctioned by the Chinese rulers at the time.
India, on the other hand, disputes that claim saying that many areas were ceded by Tibet to British India.
The terrain along the border is largely inhospitable with snowy deserts, sandy expanses and intermittent rocks jutting from the ground. As a result, the LAC doesn’t have a fence or any physical infrastructure to dictate where India’s territory ends — and China’s begins.
Ordinarily, both sides patrol the border. The soldiers are usually unarmed or carry only small weapons. Protocol dictates that even if they come face-to-face, they need to ensure that weapons should be positioned in a non-aggressive manner with nozzles facing the ground.
In other instances, a crossing of paths leads to ‘banner drills’. Either side displays banners proclaiming that the particular area belongs to them. While Chinese banners are normally in English or Hindi, the one’s displayed by India are in Mandarin or English. They last a couple of hours before both sides taper off after a Major or a Lieutenant Colonel intervenes.
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