Tensions in the contested areas on the Sino-Indian border have escalated once again after Indian troops fired warning shots at Chinese soldiers. The action, which took place on 7 September, follows on from events a week ago that saw Indian troops seize a Chinese military base in the same area.
Senior Colonel Zhang Shuili, spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army Western Theater Command, said the following day that:
“The Indian army again illegally crossed the Line of Actual Control in Shenpao mountain near the south bank of Pangong Tso Lake…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 misjudgements, which is a serious military provocation…We demand 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.”
The following day the Indian army put out a statement in which they confirmed that their troops had fired warning shots after PLA soldiers armed with improvised spears had approached their positions and opened fire first. This has also seen images published on social media alleging to be from the time of the incident.
Conflict between India and China over disputed border territory – high in the Himalayan mountains in some of the most remote parts of the planet – has been simmering for years. The two countries fought a war in 1962, that resulted in an Indian defeat.
An accord was reached that firearms would not be used in the two nations disputes. However, a serious clash occurred in June when 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese were killed in hand to hand combat, apparently on a mountain ledge.
The latest incident, breaking the accord on firearms, is another escalation in the affair and a worrying sign that if the two countries do not find a way to diffuse tensions then it may only be a matter of time before actual armed hostilities break out.