India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with neighbour China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.
China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armoured vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by Chinese army, the official said.
The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed on the banks of Pangong Tso — a glacial lake at 14,000 feet in the
Tibetan plateau — leaving scores of soldiers on both sides injured. Since then there has been a steady buildup of troops amid continuing face-offs.
Diplomats in New Delhi and Beijing have begun talks after negotiations between Indian and Chinese military officials on May 22 and 23 brought no results, the official said. China’s move to step up incursions at two different locations along the 3,488 kilometre (2,167 mile) undemarcated border is a deviation from its earlier attempts to gain territory after the two nations fought a war in 1962, according to the officials.
Beijing was committed to safeguarding peace and stability in the border areas, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a regular briefing om Wednesday. The situation was stable and the issues can be resolved through dialog and consultation, he said. China has previously noted the border has never been officially drawn, leading to territorial disputes from time to time.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the stand-off with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat and chiefs of its three armed services.
China’s actions along the border coincide with its attempts to consolidate political and strategic positions across Asia. Its decision to introduce new laws in Hong Kong is threatening to worsen already strained ties with the US, it has raised tensions in the South China Sea China by disrupting the efforts of Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia as they seek to exploit oil, gas and fishing resources off their shores, while Beijing also waged a sustained campaign to prevent Taiwan from rejoining the WHO.
The world’s second-largest economy has been facing criticism from the US, Europe and Australia for its handling of the pandemic that was first reported in China’s Hubei province.