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India-China Border Dispute - 2020

India-China Border Dispute The troops of two nuclear armed states confront each other on the roof of the world, armed with only stickes and stones. Following the brutal killing of 20 Indian soldiers by the Chinese military, China summoned the Indian Ambassador in Beijing and lodged a protest. China put out a statement to the effect that China clearly told India that it had violated the LAC; those responsible for that violation should be punished; and demanded that the Indian patrols should be instructed not to do it again. On June 19, 2020, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian stated that the Galwan Valley is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control in the west section of the China-India boundary.

After the All-Party Meeting convened by the Prime Minister on 19 June 2020, he categorically stated that "Nobody has intruded into our border, neither is anybody there now, nor have our posts been captured". The Prime Minister contradicted on the 19th what the External Affairs Minister told his Chinese counterpart on 16 June 2020. After the border clash in the Galwan Valley, nationalism and hostility against China within India were rising sharply.

Wang Shida, a Chinese scholar in Beijing, argued that India’s moves in August 2019 to alter the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir “forced China into the Kashmir dispute, stimulated China and Pakistan to take counter-actions on the Kashmir issue, and dramatically increased the difficulty in resolving the border issue between China and India”. C. Raja Mohan, director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at National University of Singapore, countered that the ground reality was "changed by the PLA’s growing military capabilities and the political will to use them.... China’s ability to nibble away at the LAC in Ladakh will only grow as the military balance continues to shift in the PLA’s favour."

Beijing moved into disputed territories that did not host a continual Chinese presence as recently as January 2020. A clash between Indian and Chinese security forces in a disputed area of the Himalayan mountains left many dead and dozens injured, marking the first time soldiers have been killed in a confrontation between the two militaries in more than four decades. Troops on both sides had agreed not to carry guns, so the conflict was fought with "cold weapons" - rocks and clubs. China called on India to "harshly" punish those responsible for deadly border clashes, but Narendra Modi said his soldiers should be proud. The clash was the first time in more than four decades that soldiers had been killed in clashes between the two militaries. In 1975, four Indian soldiers were killed while on patrol in a border area.

Since the last week of April 2020, India and China had been in a state of confrontation at the border of the actual line of control (LAC). India introduced reinforcements in Eastern Ladakh and North Sikkim in the apprehension of additional escalation in stress over the face-off which started on the night of 05 May 2020. The violent conflict involving between Indian and Chinese 250 troopers following their violent face-off at Pangong Tso lake space of Ladakh left many of them injured. The violent clashes between the two countries' troops erupted on 5 May in eastern Ladakh as both sides patrolled the border areas. As many as 11 soldiers, including four Indian and seven Chinese, were injured after a tense face-off near Naku La in the Sikkim sector on 8 May.

The Galewan Valley is located in the west of Aksai Chin, Xinjiang. This is a severe cold plateau area with an average altitude of more than 5000 meters. The air is thin here and the ground is bare. There are no people within tens of thousands of square kilometers. In 1962, the Chinese and Indian armed forces fought against the Gallevan Valley, and the elite 114 brigade of the Indian Army was defeated.

As border tensions between India and China simmered, China on 18 May 2020 accused India of “trespassing and illegally building defence facilities” in the Galwan Valley area which lies in the contested Aksai Chin space. Chinese authorities mouthpiece Global Times mentioned that China has now “enhanced control measures” throughout the Indo-China border in Ladakh. Chinese border defense troops bolstered border control measures and made necessary moves in response to India's recent construction of defense facilities in the Galwan Valley region. In a fresh flare up in tensions along the China-India border, the Chinese troops' new move, believed to be the strongest military response to India's moves along the border since the Doklam standoff, demonstrates the strong determination of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) to defend its sovereign territory.

Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the Galwan Valley is not like Doklam because it is in the Aksai Chin region in southern Xinjiang of China, where the Chinese military has an advantage and mature infrastructure. So, if India escalates the friction, the Indian military force could pay a heavy price. "The Indian government is being pressured by its society due to the unsuccessful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the number of confirmed cases is lower than the US since it has conducted fewer tests, the impact on its economy is serious," Hu said.

On 15 June 2020 there were initially reported to be 5 casualties on the Chinese side and 3 on the Indian side at the Ladakh Border between the two countries. According to an official statement from the Indian Army: “During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place yesterday night with casualties. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers. Senior military officials of the two sides were y meeting at the venue to defuse the situation.” But "sources" revealed that at least 20 Indian troops were already dead. 3 of bullet wounds; 45 have been captured with 25 of that number having been released; and 135 Indian troops were injured with some at 303 field hospital and others at GH Leh.

The Indian commanding officer (CO) was the first one to receive a blow along with two soldiers and they were reportedly attacked with iron rods and stones. Immediately after the injuries to the CO and two others, the Indian troops present at the site retaliated, which then turned into a free-for-all. Indian media outlets have claimed that PLA troops hunted down and slaughtered troops from the 16th Bihar Regiment. Many of the unarmed men jumped into the Galwan River in an attempt to escape. The Indian Army said 17 troops who were critically injured at the standoff location died after exposure to sub-zero temperatures.

China’s Global Times quoted their foreign minister as saying two Indian soldiers had “crossed into Chinese territory twice on Monday in a serious violation of the consensus reached earlier” between the two countries. “They provoked and attacked the Chinese side, leading to a severe physical brawl.” According to reports, 5 People’s Liberation Army soldiers had been killed and 11 injured. But Indian intercepts reportedly revealed that Chinese side suffered 43 casualties including dead and seriously injured in face-off in the Galwan valley. Preliminary reports indicated soldiers had not been shot, but had been killed in a brawl involving rocks & wooden clubs. By one report, according to American intelligence, 35 Chinese troops died in the clash, including one senior officer. China had not said if any of its troops were injured or killed.

China accused India of crossing a "disputed border" between the two countries. Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Indian troops crossed the border line twice on 14 June 2020, "provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides". He said "We again solemnly request that India follows the relevant attitude and restrains its front line troops... Do not cross the border, do not provoke trouble, do not take any unilateral action that would complicate the border situation."

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on 17 June 2020 talked to Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on the phone. Wang pointed out it was the Indian side that intentionally provoked and started violent attack. He also expressed his opposition to the actions of the Indian side. It is hoped that India does not indulge in its sentiment, but understands the stance of the Chinese side.

India impatiently awaited Prime Minister Narendra Modi's response to the deaths as the country's media vented its fury and political rivals goaded Modi over his silence. Modi called for an all-party meeting on 19 June 2020 to discuss the situation, but did not make any other comment on the confrontation between the nuclear-armed neighbors. In the face of adversity, Modi has almost always been bombastic.

On 09 June 2020 India and China disengaged at multiple points in Eastern Ladakh. People’s Liberation Army troops and infantry combat vehicles moved back by 2.5 km in Galwan area, Patrolling Point 15 and Hot Springs area. India has also moved some of its troops back. The Chinese intrusion into the Galwan River valley allowed PLA troops to overlook the strategic Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi (DSDBO) highway and cut off India's lone year-round connection with its isolated 'Sub-Sector North' (SSN), at the base of the Karakoram Pass. The PLA had captured more than 60 square kilometers of Indian-patrolled territory in the past month. By the time the Northern Army was able to move reserves into the area, the PLA had already consolidated its hold over its newly acquired positions.

One reason for the face-off was that India had been building roads and airfields to improve connectivity and narrow the gap with China's far superior infrastructure. At Galwan, India completed a road leading to an airfield in October 2019. China has asked India to stop all construction.

Starting on 05 May 2020, the Chinese not only occupied Indian territory but also audaciously built concrete defenses on it. Beijing's two successive protests on the creation of the Ladakh UT, which it said changed the status quo, had fallen on deaf ears in New Delhi. India's Sub Sector North (SSN), at altitudes of 18,000 feet and lacking adequate infrastructure on the Indian side, is vulnerable to ingress by the PLA, which has roads on their side right up to the LAC.

On 05 May 2020, a scuffle broke out between Indian and Chinese troops at the Pangong Tso lake, located 14,000 feet (4,270 metres) above the sea level in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. Some analysts have suggested that the Chinese border assertion was a way to divert global attention from its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The incident at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), continued until the next day, resulting in 11 soldiers being injured on both sides. Three days later and nearly 1,200km (745 miles) away to the east along the LAC, another fight erupted at Nathu La Pass in the Indian state of Sikkim after Indian soldiers stopped a patrol party from China's People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

The trigger for the face-off was China's opposition to India laying a road in the Finger area around the Pangong Tso Lake, and the construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley. India says the Chinese military is hindering normal patrolling by its troops along the LAC in Ladakh and Sikkim, and strongly refutes Beijing's contention that the escalating tension between the two armies was triggered by trespassing of Indian forces across the Chinese side.

The two counties held high-level talks between the militaries of the two countries on 06 June 2020. Talks were requested by India and were held at the Border Personnel Meeting Point in Maldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh. The Indian delegation was led by Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, Commander of 14 Corps, while the Chinese side was headed by the Commander of the Tibet Military District. "Both sides agreed to peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas in accordance with various bilateral agreements and the agreement between leaders that peace & tranquility in the India-China border regions is essential.."

Lieutenant General DS Hooda, who retired as head of the Indian military's Northern Command under which Kashmir and Ladakh fall, said the level of physical violence in the current standoff is "unprecedented and different from the past." He said "The tensest of standoffs between soldiers of the two sides in the past have been marked by a remarkable degree of restraint and an understanding of not using force. If this restraint breaks down, each transgression could become a flash point".

A sizeable number of Chinese Army personnel entered into the Indian side of the de-facto border and were camping in Pangong Tso and Galwan Valley since then. The Chinese Army ramped up their presence in Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie too - two sensitive areas with a history of skirmishes involving the two sides. The Chinese Army deployed around 2,500 troops in Pangong Tso and Galwan Valley.

In the midst of escalating border tension between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh, Prime Minister Narendra on 26 May 2020 met with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and the three service chiefs with a focus on bolstering India's military preparedness to deal with external security challenges. "China's strategy to put military pressure on India will not work. We want restoration of the status quo along the LAC" said an official on the condition of anonymity.

The defence minister conveyed to top military brass that there was no need for reviewing the implementation of any of the key projects along the LAC. In view of the three week standoff, the Indian Army had significantly ramped up its presence in sensitive border areas in North Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh besides Ladakh to send across a message that India will not be wilting under any aggressive military posturing by China.

The Chinese side had been particularly peeved at India laying a key road in the finger area of Pangong Tso Lake region besides another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley. The situation in eastern Ladakh deteriorated 05 May 2020 when 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers engaged in a violent face-off which spilled over to the next day before the two sides agreed to "disengage" following a meeting of local commanders. Over 100 Indian and Chinese soldiers were injured in the violence. In a separate incident, 150 Indian and Chinese troops faced off near Naku La Pass in the Sikkim sector on 09 May 2020. At least 10 soldiers from both sides sustained injuries.

The overall situation in the China-India border area is stable and under control, and the two countries are capable of resolving border issues through dialogue and negotiations, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said 27 May 2020, following reports claiming China had moved 5,000 troops to the China-India border area.

The Indian Army and the Chinese military are moving in heavy equipment and weaponry including artillery and combat vehicles to their rear bases close to the disputed areas in eastern Ladakh. The two sides remain engaged in a standoff along the troubled region for over 25 days. The Chinese Army has been gradually ramping up its strategic reserves in its rear bases near the Line of Actual Control or LAC in eastern Ladakh by rushing in artillery, infantry combat vehicles and heavy military equipment. The Indian Army had also been moving in additional troops as well equipment and weapons like artillery.

India-China Conflict

Doklam Doklam

The Chinese unilaterally stopped Indian troops from patrolling crucial areas along the north bank of Pangong Tso (a 135-km glacial melt lake). Eight mountain spurs of the Chang Chenmo range end at the north bank of this lake. Each spur or ridgeline is identified as ‘finger’ in military parlance and each ridgeline is separated by 2-5 km. On the night intervening May 5-6, troops of both sides had clashed, resulting in injuries to many. India assumed the LAC to be at ‘Finger 4’. China is trying to push Indian troops back to ‘Finger 2’, which is a distance of more than 10 km. India was patrolling till ‘Finger 4’ but the Chinese are not allowing patrols to pass.

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China airbases 2020

Satellite images help spot another China PLA position near the Hotsprings Sector (Gogra) [34°19'44"N 79°06'39"E] showed large scale vehicular activity throughout may consistent with media reports of the region (15Km NE of India base, Gogra & 6Km from LAC).

Chinese observers said India must first halt defence-related constructions for talks to mature. "Indian military must halt any constructing defence facilities across the border into Chinese territory in the Galwan Valley region, and stop crossing the border to create conflicts, which allows no wiggling room and is the fundamental sincerity the Indian side has to offer," Song Zhongping, a military expert, told Global Times on 06 June 2020. "There is still a possibility that India would adopt a hardline stance during the military meeting, as a way of shifting focus from its domestic difficulties of containing the Covid-19, Zhao Gancheng, a research fellow at Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times.

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The face-off in Ladakh was only the latest in a series of flare-ups along China’s and India’s 2,200-mile-long undemarcated border, or Line of Actual Control, with Indian soldiers using their fists to block an attempt by Chinese troops on May 9 to cross into Indian territory at the Nakula pass in northern Sikkim. In June 2017, India sent hundreds of troops into Bhutan to defend its ally against efforts by China to build a road southward into Doklam, an area claimed by both China and Bhutan. The stand-off continued for over two months and ended when both sides withdrew. China and India fought a border war in 1962 that left hundreds killed or wounded on both sides.

Lobsang Sangay, head of the Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan government-in-exile, told CNN India 16 June 2020 that Chinese incursions in the region bear striking similarities to Beijing’s occupation of Tibet in 1950. “[China’s founder] Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders said Tibet is the palm we must occupy, then go after [the] five fingers, and the first finger is Ladakh, [then] Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh,” he said. “They have the palm, Tibet, now they are coming after [the] five fingers.”

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The images in Galwan, obtained by NDTV from Maxar, showed possible defensive Chinese positions at the site, and new shelters or accommodation having been constructed on the Indian side of the LAC. ''There are clear signs of an incursion around Patrol Point 14. These appear to be defensive formations by the Chinese on our side of the Line of Actual Control,'' says Major General Ramesh Padhi (retd.), one of India's foremost cartographers who retired as Additional Surveyor General of India. "The images show a clear movement of heavy vehicles which indicates that they have an intention to stay deployed in the area."

By the end of June 2020 the Chinese road leading up to the LAC had been widened substantially. There did not appear to be any comparable Indian road construction activity directly opposite the Chinese positions in Galwan. However, India had completed a major highway approximately 6 kilometers away connecting Durbuk in the South with Daulat Beg Oldie in the North. The construction of this road, which would enable Indian forces to quickly reinforce their positions, was a matter of concern for Chinese forces.

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India was monitoring the concentration of Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh and is also deploying additional contingents there. Three Indian infantry divisions were deployed to the border with China, the number of each of them reaches 10-12,000 soldiers. In addition, tanks and artillery were deployed at the border, and Indian Air Force fighters regularly patrol the territory. Chinese army deployed a motorized rifle and mechanized division to Ladakh. Chinese troops were also building a new camp and observation posts in the Galvan River Valley.

India Today reported 30 June 2020 that the opposite of disengagement between India and China was happening at the four friction points in eastern Ladakh. With the third round of Corp Commander level talks winding down in Chushul, a greater mobilisation and concentration of troops was seen on both sides of the Line of Actual Control in the last 72 hours. And the mobilisation shows no signs of abating.

India Today confirmed that the Indian Army had scaled up its deployments, but "will not report on the specifics of this mobilisation owing to the dynamic nature of the situation" at all four friction points. The Chinese side had clearly scaled up deployments in depth areas of the Finger complex of Pangong Tso as well as Hot Springs area.

India Today was the first to detail just how serious the situation is on the ridgeline at Pangong Tso's Finger 4, with permanent Chinese positions emerging for the first time in a swathe of disputed territory claimed and earlier patrolled by both sides. The PLA leadership seemed to have decided to focus its intransigence on Finger 4, showing intention to move even further west into Indian territory, but held off by bigger Indian deployments in the area.

The three other friction points are Patrol Point 14 in the Galwan Valley (where the violent clash took place on June 15) and Patrol Points 15 & 17A near the Gogra Post in Hot Springs. The situation at the Galwan Valley and Hot Springs was less precarious compared to Pangong Tso, with the proximity and continuing mobilisation around Finger 4 being seen as a continued hostile action.

Disengagement may only happen by default once winter sets in, and manning positions at those frontiers becomes impossible to sustain for both sides. In the three months before winter, the two sides may continue to talk, though no dramatic de-escalation was expected.

Pangong Lake

In a claim to disputed territory, Chinese forces in the contested Fingers region of Ladakh's Pangong Lake have inscribed a massive Mandarin symbol and map of China onto the ground they occupy. The inscriptions, located between 'Finger 4' and 'Finger 5' measure approximately 81 metres in length and 25 metres in breadth and are large enough to be clearly spotted by passing imagery satellites. Earlier this week, Wang Hajiang, the overall commander of Chinese forces in Tibet was photographed repainting the character of 'China' in a frontier position along the India-China boundary.

The Chinese Special Representative of the China-India Boundary Question, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval spoke 05 July 2020, and the two sides reached a consensus on de-escalating border tensions. They stressed the importance to act on the consensus reached in the commander-level talks between bilateral border troops, to complete disengagement of the front-line troops as soon as possible. The 1km pullback in Galwan was a good start but was limited and reversible. There were still Pangong Tso and Depsang, coming on the heels of a revived Chinese claim on 12 percent of Bhutan's territory. The details of agreements implementation, such as who withdraws soldiers first from the border area, may be carried out in a "silent" fashion, to avoid further stirring public opinion or provoking irrational sentiments.

Shashank Joshi, Defence Editor at The Economist, observed "The strategic picture in the western sector of the LAC—Galwan River, Pangong Lake, Gogra-Hot Springs & Depsang Plains—remains largely negative for India. Chinese People’s Liberation Army positions have expanded to unprecedented levels since the 1962 war..."

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Indian Army's terse statement 16 July 2020 on the latest round of India-China military talks marked a shift in tone. Its assertion that the "process is intricate and requires constant verification," translated in plain language, meant that China's intransigence had stalled the disengagement. China rejected mutually agreed 1993 LAC. Says India was nibbling its territory & must go back to its 1959 claim line. Since India seemingly accepts 1959 as new LAC, it has not lost land. But, considering China has unilaterally rubbished mutually agreed 1993 LAC, and compelled India to accept 1959 LAC, India lost land.

A tombstone identifying a Chinese soldier who was killed during the 15 June Galwan clash surfaced on Chinese social media platform Weibo in alte August, apparently the first tangible evidence of Chinese troops killed during melee where 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives. Two Weibo accounts (identities withheld) posted the picture in a military forum describing the tombstone of a Chinese soldier Chen Xiangrong. The tombstone, written in mandarin, read, "Soldier of the 69316 troops, from Pingnan, Fujian. Tomb of Chen Xiangro. He was sacrificed in the struggle against India's border troops in June 2020 and was posthumously remembered by the Central Military Commission.” China has not officially spoken about the casualties in Galwan where 20 Indian soldiers, including the commanding officer of the 16 Bihar infantry regiment Colonel B Santosh Babu, lost their lives. Numerous Chinese citizens had raised questions and concerns on the lack of transparency from the Chinese military and the government.

The graveyard is located near near the Sanli barracks on the G219 Highway at Kangxiwa, Xinjiang [and not Pishan County, Hotan Prefecture, Xinjiang, as some sources reported]. Indian media reported that the Chinese soldier who put a photo of the tomb has been sent to jail by the government of China. China reportedly feared that images of gravestones for its fallen soldiers of the People's Liberation Army, or PLA, could further stoke those sentiments if spread on Chinese or international social media.

An Indian special operations battalion was recently inducted into the area and on the night of August 29-30 moved into the area & occupied the heights from where Chinese troops were present. The height is in the area under Indian side of the LAC but the Chinese also claim it to be on their side. Two brigade commander level meetings have already been held in Chushul/Moldo for resolving the matter and the tension but it has not yielded any result. In Galwan etc, China didn't capture Indian territory per se. They captured the buffer zone/no man's land, that India & China both claimed, but neither controlled. Now, India has captured the buffer zone there. The height occupied by Indian Army troops including a special operations battalion is south of Southern bank of Pangong Tso lake near Thakung. Height was lying dormant & can give strategic advantage to side which holds it for controlling the southern bank of lake & areas around.

The Indian Army on 31 August 2020 said it thwarted "provocative" military movements by Chinese troops on the intervening night of August 29 and 30 to unilaterally change the status quo on the southern bank of Pangong Tso Lake area in eastern Ladakh. Army Spokesperson Col Aman Anand said troops from China's People's Liberation Army(PLA) violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements on the ongoing standoff in eastern Ladakh, and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo. "Indian troops pre-empted this PLA activity on the Southern Bank of Pangong Tso Lake and undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on the ground," he said.

China strongly opposes Indian troops' crossing of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which is "a severe violation of the consensus reached before at the multilevel talks between the two countries", the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Western Theater Command said. Such blatant provocations lead to tensions on the border, and China urges India to withdraw its troops that crossed the LAC, strictly restrain frontline forces, and effectively follow its commitments, the PLA Western Theater Command noted.

Lin Minwang, deputy director of the Center for South Asian Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Monday that Indian action this time will definitely escalate tensions, as China has been forced to be tough and would take action; otherwise the Indian provocation would be endless. "The negotiations held by both sides since June 15 have achieved limited progress, as the Indian stance remains tough, and even urged Chinese troops to retreat from some locations within Chinese territory, which China has refused. This time, India has increased its troops to about 40,000 in the border region, which makes the situation more intense," he said.

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Both China and India deployed tanks and additional troops. The Indian Army did a “tit-for-tat” and now dominated the entire southern banks of Pangong Tso just like Chinese does on the north shore. Pangong Lake is also knows as Pangong Tso. “Pangong” comes from the Indian language, meaning “a patch of meadow”. In the Tibetan language, this lake is called “Cuomu Angla Renbo Tso”, which means “Long-Necked Crane Lake”. This lake is 2 to 5 km wide and 134 km long This lake is also known as salt water lake. However, the visibility is like #crystal clear as there is no pollution. Everything, you will see there will reflect as blue. Lake is surrounded by heavy glaciers or the snowcapped hills and the temperature remains around 5-10°C in summers. In winters, this lake freezes completely despite being the salt water.

The 593-square-kilometer lake is 4,240 meters above sea level, with the deepest point reaching 57 meters. Although its elevation is not too high, visitors still need to pay attention to the altitude sickness. The highlight about this lake is that its eastern part inside China is fresh water, while the western part in Kashmir is salt water. Although the fresh water part is crystal clear and the water tastes sweet, there is only sparse vegetation on the bank. On the contrary, the salt water part has reared lush meadows on the bank.

The defense ministers of China and India agreed to continue dialogue in their first talks since a deadly military clash in a disputed border region in June. Chinese defense minister Wei Fenghe and his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh met in Moscow on 04 September 2020. The Chinese minister reportedly said the sides should seek a solution through dialogue, and that they need to ease the tensions as early as possible to maintain peace and stability in the region. China's defense ministry says Wei insisted that India bears full responsibility for the situation. Indian and other media say Singh responded that Chinese troops tried to change the status quo. He also reportedly stressed the importance of continuing dialogue to resolve the issue.

China will not lose "an inch of its territory", the Chinese government claimed, blaming India for escalating tension along the LAC (Line of Actual Control), which serves as the de factor border between the two countries. "Causes and truth of the current tension on the China-India border are clear, and the responsibility entirely lies with India. China cannot lose an inch of its territory, and its armed forces are fully determined, capable and confident in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity," the Chinese said in their statement. China also called on India to "earnestly implement important consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and insist on resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation."

India responded shortly after, with the Defence Ministry noting that China's actions, including the "amassing of large number of troops... aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo", were in violation of bilateral agreements. The Defence Ministry responded saying that India too was "determined to protect (its) sovereignty and territorial integrity", but urged China against further escalation and said it was keen for China to "work with the Indian side for complete disengagement at the earliest... The two sides should continue their discussions, including through diplomatic and military channels, to ensure complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquillity along the LAC at the earliest," the ministry said.

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India on 07 September 2020 blamed Chinese troops for firing shots in the air to intimidate Indian troops during a confrontation. India said its troops exercised restraint and did not cross the border. This was the first recorded instance of gunshots on the India-China border since 1975, India Today said, adding that there was also a brief exchange of "warning shots" during the event on August 31.

The Indian army claimed in a statement that "at no stage has the Indian army transgressed across the LAC or resorted to use of any aggressive means, including firing." According to the Indian Ministry of Defence " In the instant case on 07 September 2020, it was the PLA troops who were attempting to close-in with one of our forward positions along the LAC and when dissuaded by own troops, PLA troops fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate own troops. However, despite the grave provocation, own troops exercised great restraint and behaved in a mature and responsible manner."

Beijing said it took "countermeasures" after Indian troops fired aerial shots during a confrontation with Chinese personnel on the border of disputed Kashmir. It was the Indian side that fired first in the incident in which Indian troops crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) of the China-India border and outrageously fired warning shots at Chinese border defense patrol personnel who were attempting to negotiate, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on 08 September 2020. This marked the first time that the tranquility on the China-India border has been broken by gunfire since 1975, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian at a regular press conference.

The Indian troops crossed the LAC at the western section of the China-India border into the Shenpao mountain region near the southern bank of Pangong Tso Lake, said Senior Colonel Zhang Shuili, a spokesperson of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Western Theater Command, in a statement. During its operation, the Indian army outrageously fired warning shots at Chinese border defense patrol personnel who were attempting to negotiate, which is a serious military provocation and is vile in nature, and Chinese border defense troops were forced to take countermeasures to stabilize the situation, Zhang said.

India broke the tacit understanding of not using firearms over the past four decades, and set a vile precedent that will leave great danger for the situation to develop, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute of Tsinghua University in Beijing, told the Global Times on 08 September 2020. Both sides had exercised great restraint in using firearms, and China upholds the principle of not firing the first shot, Qian said. "India maybe only fired warning shots into the sky this time, but now you cannot rule out the possibility of its troops shooting at people next time," Qian said.

China and India said 11 September 2020 they had agreed to de-escalate renewed tensions on their contested Himalayan border and take steps to restore “peace and tranquillity” following a high-level diplomatic meeting in Moscow. Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi and Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar met in Moscow and reached a five-point consensus, including agreements the current border situation is not in their interests and that troops from both sides should quickly disengage and ease tensions, the two countries said in a joint statement. The consensus, struck on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting, came after a clash in the border area in the western Himalayas earlier this week.

The Indian Ministry of Defence reiterated 12 February 2021 that the factual position has already been clearly communicated by the Raksha Mantri in his statements to both Houses of the Parliament. "The assertion that Indian territory is upto Finger 4 is categorically false. The territory of India is as depicted by the map of India and includes more than 43,000 sq km currently under illegal occupation of China since 1962. Even the Line of Actual Control (LAC), as per the Indian perception, is at Finger 8, not at Finger 4. That is why India has persistently maintained the right to patrol upto Finger 8, including in the current understanding with China.

rontline troops of the Chinese and Indian armies stationed at the southern and northern banks of the Pangong Tso began simultaneous, scheduled disengagement on 10 Fbruary 2021, in accordance to a consensus reached during the ninth round of corps commander-level meeting, Wu Qian, a spokesperson at China’s Ministry of National Defense, announced in a statement on the same day. After a prolonged nine rounds of record-breaking talks between the two militaries, particularly the three most recent rounds of meetings in which both sides struck more and more consensus and the atmosphere became more constructive, disengagement became a natural step. The situation in the northern bank of the Pangong Tso had long been in deadlock.

Front-line troops of the Chinese and Indian armies stationed at the southern and northern banks of Pangong Tso (Lake) began a scheduled “simultaneous disengagement” on 10 February 2021, in accordance with a consensus reached during the ninth round of corps commander-level meetings after a border standoff. Indian media reported that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had withdrawn more than 200 main battle tanks from Pangong Tso and used more than 100 heavy vehicles to ferry the troops by 11 February 2021. Chinese experts said the massive withdrawal shows Beijing’s sincerity for peace and border stability, at the same time showcasing the country’s increasingly growing defense capability. In other words, the PLA has the ability to withdraw this many forces in one day, but also can replenish that much in a single day, the Chinese experts noted.

February 10, 2021: Russian news agency TASS claims that mid-June 2020 fighting in southwest China (Tibet border with India) were more damaging to the Chinese than to the Indians. TASS reports 45 Chinese troops dead versus twenty Indian. The fighting took place on the shores of Pangong Lake. A 1996 agreement stipulates that troops from both sides entering disputed areas without firearms or explosives. The Chinese had taken to sending in their troops armed with wooden clubs and iron bars. This led to the battle on a ridge overlooking the Galvan River that was initially believed to left at least twenty dead on both sides. Total casualties (dead, wounded, prisoners) were reported as at least fifty on each side.

The Hindustan Times reported on Friday 12 February 2021, “by Thursday, the PLA had withdrawn more than 200 main battle tanks from the southern banks of Pangong Tso and had positioned no less than 100 heavy vehicles to ferry its troops from fingers on the northern banks to Srijap sector, east of Finger 8.” The report said that the speed of Chinese withdrawal has actually surprised the Indian army brass and Indian national security planners. The report also cited a senior member of the Narendra Modi government as saying that “the speed of Chinese withdrawal since Wednesday also shows their capacity to deploy. It is a military art. The Indian side has also pulled back its armor but contingency plans are ready in case of a worst-case scenario.”

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Page last modified: 05-01-2022 15:43:15 ZULU