China on Monday claimed that Indian soldiers fired warning shots in a new confrontation at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh near the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake. As a result, the country said it took “countermeasures to stabilize the situation on the ground”.
The accusation was made in a statement issued just after midnight in Beijing by Colonel Zhang Shuili, spokesperson for the PLA Western Theatre Command. Later in the day, the Indian Army denied that it had resorted to any aggressive measures and claimed that the Chinese troops had fired a few rounds in the air to “intimidate” Indian soldiers. The Army added that Indian soldiers had behaved in a “mature and responsible manner”.
The latest escalation came just two days after Indian and Chinese defence ministers met in Moscow on September 5 to try and end the impasse. It was the first high-level direct contact between the sides since the standoff erupted in the Ladakh region four months ago.
According to China’s statement, Indian Army troops allegedly crossed the Line of Control near the western sector into the Shenpao mountain region near the south bank of Pangong Tso lake on Monday. Zhang Shuili claimed that Indian soldiers “outrageously fired warning shots on Chinese border patrol soldiers who had made representations”. As a result, he said the “Chinese border guards were forced to take countermeasures to stabilise the situation on the ground”.
China asserted that Indian actions had “seriously violated related agreements reached by both sides, stirred up tensions in the region, and easily causing misunderstandings and misjudgements”. “They are serious military provocations and are of very bad nature,” the statement said.
“We request the Indian side to immediately stop dangerous actions, immediately withdraw cross-line personnel, strictly restrain front-line troops, and strictly investigate and punish personnel who fired shots to ensure that similar incidents do not occur again,” it added. “Theater troops will resolutely perform their duties and missions and resolutely defend national territorial sovereignty.”
The southern bank area of Pangong Tso has recently emerged as a new area for stand-off between both countries. India said it thwarted “provocative movements” by Chinese troops in the region twice last week on August 29 and August 31.
Tensions first erupted in early May between the two sides, but the situation escalated dramatically in June when Indian and Chinese troops engaged in a violent stand-off in the Galwan Valley of Ladakh on June 15, leaving 20 Indian soldiers dead and 76 wounded. China did not acknowledge any casualties.