Indian and Chinese troops have again clashed along the disputed Himalayan border region which in recent years has seen deadly hand-to-hand fighting, marking the first flare-up in over a year along the hotly contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) which serves as a buffer between the two.
Reports of the new incident in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradeshbegan, a state in northeastern India, began emerging Monday, and received confirmation from both sides as of Tuesday. The incident is said to have occurred at the remote outpost on Friday.
India's Defense Minister Rajnath Singh informed his country's parliament on Tuesday, describing that clashes began after Chinese troops "encroached into Indian territory" and "unilaterally tried to change the status quo" along the disputed border near the area.
He said Indian troops responded forcefully to keep the PLA military from "transgressing into our territory" - citing that no Indian soldiers had been "hurt or seriously injured". Regional reports say a handful of soldiers on either side may have suffered minor injuries. But as is typical of such clashes, media personalities particularly on the Indian side are reporting major violence that resulted in fractured skulls in some instances, amid ongoing speculation that the encounter was more severe than officially acknowledged.
"Both sides immediately disengaged from the area," the Indian army confirmed, which led to military-to-military talks "to restore peace and tranquility". India's defense chief said further:
"The ensuing faceoff led to a physical scuffle in which the Indian Army bravely prevented the PLA from transgressing into our territory and compelled them to return to their posts."
China's foreign ministry, meanwhile, appeared to confirm some type of hostile encounter but without acknowledging any details, only calling the border situation now "generally stable".
According to China's state Global Times:
When asked to comment on alleged clash around China-India border, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the current situation is "generally stable," and asked India to abide by the spirit of relevant agreements signed by the two sides.
Wang said: "We hope that the Indian side will meet China halfway , implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strictly abide by the spirit of the relevant agreements signed by the two sides, and jointly maintain peace and tranquility in the border region."
The New York Times explains of the location as follows: "The latest skirmish occurred on Friday in the Tawang sector of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, an area that China claims as an integral part of Tibet. Soldiers briefly confronted each other near a 17,000-foot mountain peak where India maintains a military post."
The report continues: "China said it had been conducting a routine patrol on its side of the line, while India said Chinese troops had encroached on Indian territory."
India's air force and army are now said to be in a heightened state of alert, monitoring the border region across the LAC. The two nuclear-armed Asian powers have since 2020 held dozens of peace talks to maintain an uneasy border truce.
India-China border clash - THREAD— Richard Walker (@rbsw) December 12, 2022
- Reported in Arunachal Pradesh state, known as the "eastern sector"
- China claims the ENTIRE state
- Experts describe eastern sector as potentially the most dangerous flashpoint between India & China
- Part of world's largest border dispute
In June of that year, 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese were killed in the bloodiest brawl in Ladakh's Galwan River valley, in what was the most severe known clash in decades. Both sides have since pledged to prevent such a disaster in the future.
The 2020 encounter involved sticks, clubs, knives, and possibly guns - but the hand to hand combat and close-quarters nature of it made it particularly brutal, according to media accounts.
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Close quarter India-China border clashes... video from an unknown date:
Big Salute To Indian Army! 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/OcviGFdTXh— Dr. Jitendra Nagar (@NagarJitendra) December 13, 2022