A scuffle broke out between the boat patrols from India and China at Pangong Lake in Ladakh.
Reportedly 15 Chinese soldiers had crossed into Indian territory and did not turn back despite repeated warnings. The clashes took place during a military stand-off between India and China in Doklam.
In June 2017, a skirmish broke out between Indian and Chinese troops at the Doklam plateau. Indian soldiers had intervened the construction work being conducted by China in the region. The area is a disputed territory between Bhutan (an Indian ally) and China.
Both sides have increased their military presence in the region and neither party has yielded.
Indian officials have said that there are about 300 soldiers on either side of the plateau. In the recent weeks, China has become more aggressive with its rhetoric regarding India and has issued veiled threats. During a news conference, Chinese Defense ministry spokesman Col. Wu Qian said that India should not “push” its luck. He noted, “China's determination and resolve to safeguard national security and sovereignty is unshakable. Here, I wish to remind India, do not push your luck and cling to any fantasies…It is easier to shake a mountain than to shake the PLA."
According to media reports, a patrol party from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) tried to infiltrate Ladakh. The Indian side issued multiple warnings but they were ignored. This resulted in troops from either side pelting stones at one another. The clash lasted for two hours. During this period, Indian troops carried a flag in Chinese that said, “This area belongs to us please go back.”
Even though both India and China have often accused one another of encroaching territory, the outbreak of violence between the troops is rare. China, meanwhile, has said that it was not aware of the situation. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that PLA troops frequently conducted patrols on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). She noted, “The Chinese side is committed to peace and tranquility on the China-India border…the Indian side to abide by the LAC and relevant conventions between the two sides”.
To prevent escalation, army officers from both sides met at Leh’s Chushul sector to discuss ways to maintain peace along the Sino-Indian border.
Tensions between both nations have only escalated in the recent days. On August 15th, 2017, India celebrated 70 years of its freedom. There is a tradition of PLA and the Indian troops engaging ceremonial border meetings on this occasion. For the first time since 2005, PLA declined India’s invitation.
Our assessment is that this clash could be the first of many skirmishes between Indian and Chinese troops if the stand-off in Doklam is not resolved. A flare-up could result in a military conflict that both nations would want to avoid.