United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday offered to mediate between India and China amid escalating tension. “We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute,” Trump said in a tweet.
Over the last two weeks, Chinese troops have clashed with the Indian Army at several points along the Line of Actual Control, ratcheting up tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours. On Tuesday, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly met the three service chiefs, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat to discuss the ongoing border stand-off with China.
The ongoing standoff centres around a strategic bridge being built near Daulat Beg Oldi, the last military post south of the Karakoram Pass. The Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi road, once fully metalled, will give India a major advantage in terms of access and military mobilisation.
China has reportedly put forward the condition that India stop building infrastructure even on its own side of the LAC. New Delhi, on the other hand, has asked Beijing to maintain status quo at the border. In recent weeks, India and China have reportedly deployed additional troops along North Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, along with Ladakh.
Over the past three weeks, Chinese transgressions of the LAC are said to have occurred at four places: Pangong Tso, Galwan Nalah and Demchok in Ladakh and at Naku La in Sikkim. The scuffles left dozens of soldiers injured and some reports alleged that a few Indian soldiers were “detained” by the Chinese Army, though India has denied these claims. Last week, Indian Army Chief MM Naravane landed in Leh to take stock of the situation in eastern Ladakh.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, China’s President Xi Jinping ordered his nation’s army to boost training and battle preparedness to face “worst-case scenarios”. The country asked its citizens willing to return to China to register by May 27.
Last week, India had strongly contested Beijing’s claims that its soldiers had crossed the LiAC and entered Chinese territory. The United States had also sided with India and said that tension along the LAC was a reminder of the fact that Chinese aggression can be real, not merely rhetorical.
The US president has, in the past, made multiple offers to mediate between India and Pakistan after New Delhi in August last year stripped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and split the erstwhile state into two Union Territories.