Beijing: A fresh border confrontation had erupted a few hours back between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh. Following the development, China hoped Tuesday disengagement can be achieved as soon as possible through mutual consultations.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian expressed this hope. It came hours after India and China accused each other of firing in the air Monday near the Pangong lake at the Line of Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
The Indian Army said Chinese troops fired shots in the air and attempted to close in on an Indian position. They rejected charges by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that they transgressed across the LAC.
The remarks by the Army came after the PLA late Monday night alleged that the Indian troops crossed the LAC and ‘outrageously fired’ warning shots near the Pangong lake.
The use of firearms along the LAC marks a serious escalation in border tensions as the previous instance of shots being fired at the de-facto border was in 1975.
Spokesman Zhao spoke about disengagement when asked at a media briefing about restoration of the status quo by disengaging the troops.
“You have a good wish. We all hope our troops get back to their camping area and there won’t be any more confrontation in the border areas. You know that place has a very bad natural condition and it is above a height of 4,000 metres,” Zhao said.
“In winter this is not good for humans to live. So we hope, through diplomatic and military channels and through consultations on the ground we can achieve disengagement as soon as possible and reach consensus,” the Chinese spokesperson added.
India has already called on China to work jointly for ‘complete disengagement and de-escalation’ on the LAC. It has said the future of bilateral relationship is dependent on the situation along the border.
This is the first time that China has officially acknowledged the harsh conditions of the mountainous Ladakh region in winter. The temperatures plummet to minus 30 degrees Celsius. It will pose major health hazards to the thousands of troops mobilised by the two armies.
Reports from the area said both sides were making arrangements for a long drawn out faceoff especially at the Pangong lake area. Troops of both India and China were positioned eyeball to eyeball with heavy weapons and armoury.
Echoing the PLA’s comments, Zhao sought to blame Indian troops for firing warning shots first Monday.
“I also want to stress in this incident, the Indian side fired shots to the Chinese border troops first. This is the first time since 1975 that the tranquility is interrupted by shots. And the Chinese side always stresses that both sides should peacefully settle our differences through dialogue and consultations. Confrontation won’t benefit either,” Zhao said.