India has scaled up troop presence at its disputed border with China to “unprecedented” levels after clashes with Beijing on Dec. 9, the country’s foreign minister said, according to the BBC.
Indian and Chinese troops tussled with clubs and stun guns last week, the second outbreak of violence along a hotly contested region since fighting killed 20 Indian soldiers in 2020, according to The New York Times. India has upgraded troops along the 2,100-mile Line of Actual Control (LAC) to protect against alleged future “encroachment” by Chinese forces, Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said, the BBC reported.
The deployment aims “to counter Chinese aggression,” Jaishankar said at an India Today media event, according to the BBC. “The Indian Army today is deployed to counter any attempt to unilaterally change LAC.”
India blamed the clashes earlier in December to trespassing by Chinese troops, but Beijing later countered, saying the situation was “generally stable” and the two sides have sustained dialogue regarding boundary disputes, the BBC reported.
“We hope that the Indian side will work with us in the same direction,” and “act strictly in the spirit of relevant bilateral agreements signed by both sides” to “jointly preserve peace and tranquility in the border areas,” Chinese Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Dec. 13.
Beijing said troops were conducting a routine patrol and did not step into Indian-claimed territory, according to the NYT.
Soldiers on both sides sustained injuries but none were killed, India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said, according to the BBC.
Chinese and Indian troops clashed in January 2021 at a region hundreds of miles from the site of the latest fighting, injuring several soldiers, the NYT reported.
India’s opposition leaders have accused Narendra Modi of ignoring China’s threats, the BBC reported.
“If we were indifferent to China, who sent the Indian Army to the border? If we were indifferent to China, why are we pressurising China for de-escalation and disengagement today?” Jaishankar said, according to the BBC.
China had deployed 70,000 additional personnel along the Ladakh frontier and continued to construct military facilities and transportation infrastructure inside Indian-claimed regions of the LAC, local media reported, citing security officials.
Beijing has been “mobilising more men and machinery into the Galwan Valley and other standoff points, where both armies have carried out partial disengagement,” a security official told Telegraph India.
The two countries had agreed to withdraw troops from the border region and begin dismantling military posts in September after months of difficult negotiations, an effort to stave off further escalation of tensions between the neighboring nuclear powers and comes amid visible cooperation with China in military and economic matters, accordingto Reuters.
“The eyeball-to-eyeball contact has ended,” an Indian defense source told Reuters, while thousands of soldiers still remained on the border. “This is the first step towards a calmer LAC,” the source added.
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