China early on Tuesday said its border troops took “countermeasures” after the Indian army crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and fired “warning shots” near the Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh.
Border troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were “forced to take countermeasures” after Indian army soldiers fired at them near the Shenpao mountain region near the south bank of Pangong Tso lake, a statement issued by China’s western theatre command (WAC) said in a statement issued early on Tuesday.
The statement from the PLA’s WAC would mean that shots were fired at the disputed Sino-India border for the first time in four decades.
India has squarely blamed China for the tensions along the LAC in Ladakh over the past four months and said the only way forward was through negotiations – reflecting the impasse created by Beijing’s fresh attempts to alter the status quo along the disputed border.
In a statement issued in Mandarin, and tweeted by state media, WAC spokesperson Colonel Zhang Shuili said Chinese border defence troops were forced to take countermeasures to stabilise the situation after Indian soldiers troops “outrageously fired warning shots to PLA border patrol soldiers who were about to negotiate”.
“During the operation, the Indian army blatantly shot and threatened the patrol personnel of the Chinese border defence forces who had made representations before, and the Chinese border defence forces were forced to take countermeasures to stabilise the situation on the ground,” Zhang said in the statement.
“The Indian side’s move seriously violated related agreements reached by both sides, stirred up tensions in the region, and would easily cause misunderstandings and misjudgments, which is a serious military provocation and is very vile in nature,” the spokesperson said.
“We demand the Indian side to immediately stop dangerous moves, withdraw personnel who crossed the LAC at once, strictly control frontline troops, seriously investigate and punish the personnel who fired the provocative shot and ensure similar incidents won’t take place again,” Zhang added.
“The PLA WAC troops will firmly fulfill duties and missions and resolutely safeguard national territorial sovereignty,” Zhang said.
The last time shots were fired at the LAC was in the Tulung La area of Arunachal Pradesh in 1975.
Indian and Chinese troops are engaged in a bitter standoff in multiple places in eastern Ladakh.
Tensions flared up again in the region after China unsuccessfully attempted to occupy Indian territory in the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake last week when the two sides were engaged in diplomatic and military talks to resolve the border row.
The tension between the two sides escalated after violent clashes in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on June 15 in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed. The Chinese side also suffered casualties but it is yet to give out the details.
The rise in the border tension comes days ahead of an expected meeting between external affairs minister, S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, on the margins of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) foreign ministers’ meeting in Moscow on September 10,
On Monday, Jaishankar, said the failure to observe several understandings on border management dating back to 1993 raises “very important questions” about the status of ties with China.
“If peace and tranquillity on the border is not a given, then it cannot be that the rest of the relationship continues on the same basis, because clearly peace and tranquillity is the basis for the relationship,” he said while participating in an online interaction organised by The Indian Express newspaper to mark the release of his book ‘The India Way’.