Army personnel keep a vigil at the Bumla pass along the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh on Sunday. AFP
China on Wednesday indicated that People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers were reacting to the Indian army’s attempts to change the “status quo” along the disputed border be the incident at Depsang in April or the latest incident in Chumar in June that has only now come to light.
Indian media has reported that Chinese troops intruded into the Chumar sector in Ladakh, smashed army bunkers and cut camera wires installed at the border post.
The intrusion, official sources told Indian media, took place on June 17 when PLA troops entered Indian territory in Chumar and started vandalising observation bunkers, besides cutting the wires of cameras that overlooked into Chinese territory.
Responding to a question on the incident on Wednesday, foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying said there was consensus between the two neighbours that that the status quo should be maintained before the border question was resolved.
“The general situation in the border areas is stable. We have the consensus that pending the final settlement of the boundary question neither one of us should change the status quo along LAC (Line of Actual Control),” Hua said at the regular press briefing on Wednesday dropping broad hints that China was only responding to developments that Beijing thought was altering the status quo.
Hua reiterated China’s stand during the Depsang incident that PLA troops were patrolling along the Chinese side of the LAC.
“Chinese Defence forces have been patrolling along the Chinese side of the LAC of the China-India border,” she said.
The June incident was clearly kept under wraps by India – and China which seldom shares information on issues at the long, disputed border – to ensure that no media storm was created by it before defence minister, AK Antony’s much-publicised China visit last week.
Antony during his two brief interactions with the Beijing-based India media had given the picture that both countries were doing all to ensure the border region remained peaceful; no reference was made about the Chumar incident.
Neither he nor Indian diplomats answered the pointed question whether China would tolerate India building infrastructure on its side of the LAC. Quite clearly, Beijing is in no mood to tolerate any such build-up.
Neither side has also revealed details about the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) which is being negotiated to prevent and resolve such incidents at the border.
“China would like to make joint efforts with Indian side to safeguard peace and tranquillity of the border areas,” Hua said on Wednesday.
That tranquility could come at the cost of India not developing infrastructure at the border.