Indian and Chinese soldiers were involved in a fresh clash last week along their disputed border in the eastern Himalayas according to the Indian army. China has not confirmed the incident.
The latest scuffle took place amid a tense eight-month long standoff between their militaries and indicates that the border between the Asian giants will continue to be volatile, say analysts.
In a statement, the Indian army called the incident that took place on Wednesday at Naku La in North Sikkim a “minor face-off” and said that it “was resolved by local commanders as per established protocols.”
Media reports in India said that soldiers from both sides sustained injuries in the brawl which took place when Indian troops blocked a Chinese patrol from intruding into Indian territory. The army said that the media should “refrain from overplaying or exaggerating reports.”
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said he had “no information to offer” on the incident. But he urged India to exercise restraint and take proper actions to manage their differences.
“I would like to stress though that China’s border troops are committed to upholding peace and tranquility along the border with India. We urge the Indian side to work in the same direction as us and refrain from actions that might escalate or complicate the situation along the border,” Zhao told a regular news briefing.
The editor-in-chief of China’s state-affiliated Global Times, Hu Xijin, tweeted there was “no record of this clash in the patrol log of the Chinese side”.
The latest incident comes amid worsening ties between India and China as their border disputes intensify. Both countries have deployed tens of thousands of soldiers along with heavy artillery and fighter aircraft on icy, Himalayan slopes in Ladakh since a deadly clash last June killed 20 Indian soldiers. India has accused China of intruding into its territory â€“ Beijing denies it.
Nine rounds of talks between the two militaries have failed to defuse the standoff â€“ the latest talks were held on Sunday. There has been no statement from either side on the outcome of the dialogue but New Delhi wants troops from both countries to return to positions that they held before the tensions erupted last summer.
The huge mobilization of troops by both countries following that deadly clash along their frontier points to the border becoming more “tense and volatile,” according to Jayadeva Ranade at the Center for China Analysis and Strategy in New Delhi. “This year could be difficult, we could see more incidents of the kind that took place in Sikkim along the border.”
The roughly 3,800-long kilometer long India-China border in the Himalayan mountains is disputed along large stretches, with both sides claiming large swathes of each other’s territory.