China on Tuesday said it hoped for quick disengagement of its troops with their Indian counterparts on the border, PTI reported. The Chinese foreign ministry’s remark came hours after New Delhi and Beijing accused each other of firing near Pangong Tso lake near the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijiang spoke about disengagement when asked at a media briefing about restoration of the status quo along the border with India. “You have a good wish,” he told the reporter. “We all hope our troops get back to their camping area and there won’t be any more confrontation in the border areas.”

Zhao said that the place, located over 4,000 metres above sea level, is not fit for human beings to stay during winter. “So we hope, through diplomatic and military channels and through consultations on the ground we can achieve disengagement as soon as possible and reach [a] consensus,” he said.

Zhao also blamed Indian soldiers for firing the first shots near the lake on Monday. “I also want to stress in this incident, the Indian side fired shots to the Chinese border troops first,” Zhao said, referring to a statement by the People’s Liberation Army’s Western Theatre Command spokesperson. “This is the first time since 1975 that the tranquility is interrupted by the shots. And the Chinese side always stresses that both sides should peacefully settle our differences through dialogue and consultations. Confrontation won’t benefit either.”

China on Monday night claimed 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 stabilise the situation on the ground”. On Tuesday, the Indian Army denied this allegation, and accused China of blatantly violating bilateral agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres in the region amid deescalation talks.

The Army added: “In the instant case on 07 September 2020, it was the PLA troops who were attempting to close-in with one of our forward positions along the LAC and when dissuaded by own troops, PLA troops fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate own troops. However, despite the grave provocation, own troops exercised great restraint and behaved in a mature and responsible manner.”

Border tensions

The southern bank area of Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh has recently emerged as a new area for stand-off between India and China. India said earlier this month that it had thwarted “provocative movements” by Chinese troops in the region twice on August 29 and August 31.

Border tensions first erupted in early May between the two sides, but the situation escalated dramatically when Indian and Chinese troops engaged in a violent standoff in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on June 15. Twenty Indian soldiers and an unspecified numbers of Chinese soldiers were killed in the clash, which was the worst violence between troops of the two countries in 40 years.