China says it has no information of scuffle with Indian troops in Ladakh
The Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday it was not “aware” of scuffles between its army and Indian forces in Ladakh where men from both sides exchanged punches and threw stones at each other.
On Tuesday, Indian border troopers intercepted Chinese patrol at two spots around the Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh and asked them to turn back before the violent exchanges. The incident comes close on the heels of a tense stand-off between forces of the two countries at the Doklam region near Sikkim.
“I am not aware of the incident,” Hua Chunying, foreign ministry spokesperson said at the daily ministry briefing on Wednesday when asked about the Ladakh incident.
She added that Chinese border troops were always “committed to maintain peace and tranquillity” along the Sino-India border.
“We always patrol on the Chinese side of the LAC. We urge the Indian side to abide by the LAC and relevant conventions,” she added.
The Chinese media too did not report the incident.
But military officials from China sought a flag meeting with the Indian side to discuss the skirmish.
The spot where the two troops faced off were identified as Finger Four and Finger Five areas near the Pangong Lake.
Finger Four is almost 5km into Indian territory from the Line of Actual Control manned by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
The LAC, or the unmarked border, divides Indian and Chinese territories where boundaries are not clearly defined. Difference of perception over the territory leads to around 400 such skirmishes every year from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh.
When Indian troops told the Chinese to retreat, words were exchanged and then a scuffle broke out. “Stones were thrown at each other, resulting in injuries to troops from both sides after which finally the Chinese forces retreated,” government sources told HT.
Hua did not directly answer a query on whether the Ladakh incident was in any way connected to the ongoing standoff.
Instead, she repeated that the withdrawal of Indian troops from the Donglang area, identified as Doklam in India, is the “precondition” for any meaningful dialogue.
China has blamed India for the Doklam impasse, accusing Indian soldiers of trespass and for preventing Chinese soldiers from building a road in a region that is also claimed by Bhutan.
Beijing wants India to withdraw its troops before the two sides can open talks. New Delhi says the road, if built, will have serious security implications for India.
China has repeatedly warned India about the possible fallouts of the standoff.
Earlier this month, the Chinese ministry of defence (MOD) said its “restraint” has a “bottom line” and demanded that India immediately withdraw soldiers.