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China to intensify incursions While Indian troops remain assertive on Indo-China standoff in Ladakh

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Amidst the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic, China is busy reviving its territorial disputes in its vicinity. There have been reports of tension in Ladakh between the armies of India and China. The main reason for the dispute between India and China is being told that construction work is done in the border area.

As per sources, the Chinese government had been objecting to a 255 km Darbuk-Shyok-DBO road construction project by India last year in the north of Pangong Tso (lake). The contentious road was well within the Indian territory and far from the Chinese claim, the sources added.

There is no demarcation on the India-China border, so both countries have their own claims about the border.

“There are disagreements between India and China over the exact location of the LAC in several areas. While India claims that the LAC is 3,488 km long, the Chinese think it is around 2,000 km long”.

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The border dispute between India and China is escalating. As per experts, there is very little media coverage on the actual situation of the border standoff between India and Chinese forces, as the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) is believed to have infringed into the Indian territory and refuse to leave.

“This is a huge build-up that includes military-style bunkers, military trucks, road-building equipment, and an increased military presence ready for a face-off,” according to satellite images by an Australian based security analyst, reported India Today.

India-China border dispute
image, tweeted by Nathan Ruser, security-analyst of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, show Chinese fortified tents on their side of the Line of Actual Control

More than 5,000 Chinese soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have intruded into five points in Ladakh, in the third week of the April, – four along the Galwan River, and one near the Pangong Lake, Business Standard has reported.

Quoting sources, the newspaper further reported that, in sending thousands of PLA troops three-to-four kilometres into the Galwan Valley, China has violated its own claim line and occupied territory that Beijing itself has traditionally acknowledged to be Indian,” notes the report.

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This is a huge provocation coming from China, and it is for the first time since the Kargil intrusions of 1999, that Indian territory is in the hands of foreign soldiers.

Meanwhile, there were also reports that Indian soldiers were taken into custody by Chinese soldiers. But was later released. However, Army refuted reports of a patrol party being detained by the Chinese forces in Ladakh. Sources in the Army have said that the reports on detention are inaccurate neither they have been detained nor their weapons have been confiscated. It was brief detention, a source said according to an ndtv report.

The rising tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours have an uncanny resemblance to the 2017 Doklam stand-off.  The two-month-long standoff, when China was trying to construct a road in the tri-junction area of (Sikkim, Bhutan, and Tibet), over 250 Indian troops with weapons bulldozed the area to stop the Chinese troops from constructing the road. Later, the issue was resolved with mutual cooperation between New Delhi and Beijing.

Doklam is a contentious territory claimed by India and China’s ally, Bhutan.

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The current situation looks like a repeat of Doklam standoff or even the 1999 Kargil Incursions by Pakistan where they occupied strategic heights and refused to leave.

Looking at the matter from the LAC angle only would not be adequate to grasp the potential of the cause. Remember, in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A, there was a sudden outburst from Beijing over making Ladakh a Union Territory (UT). “There appears to have been a strategic shift in Chinese thinking after India abrogated Sections of Article 370 last year and created the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. China even raised the issue at UNSC but India dismissed China’s assertion, termed Ladakh’s new status as an “internal matter” having “no implication for India’s external boundaries or the LAC with China”.

While India has pursued its core national interest in J&K, China’s response was strategic- a shift that may have a lasting imprint on geopolitics. India and China have been harping on the “differing perceptions” theory of the LAC for decades, but in reality, China has been gaining control over a massive “disputed territory” in eastern Ladakh since the 1980s.

India must quickly get China on the table and resolve the matter before it flares up, experts have warned. Also, it proves to be a huge opportunity for India to escalate the matter into taking back Aksai Chin– a part of the Union Territory of Ladakh which is currently under illegal Chinese occupation. Not only the PLA has crossed the line this time with the location and size of infiltration, but China is already facing a global backlash that should help the Indian government.

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Meanwhile, Army Chief General MM Naravane on Friday visited Leh, headquarters of the 14 Corps in Ladakh to assess the situation along the Line of Actual Control.

“China on Monday said it will evacuate its citizens from India amid rising cases and increasing border tension,” according to a report by TOI.

There are also reports from Chinese state media that it may deploy an unmanned helicopter for carrying out military drills near border amid bolstering troop deployment from both sides.

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