Indian and Chinese troops involved in new border clash in eastern Himalayas

Ben Farmer
·2 min read
A Chinese border guard, standing next to his Indian counterpart, attempts to block a photographer from taking photos - Diptendu Dutta/AFP
A Chinese border guard, standing next to his Indian counterpart, attempts to block a photographer from taking photos - Diptendu Dutta/AFP

Indian and Chinese soldiers armed with sticks and stones have brawled again along their disputed frontier, Delhi said, as the neighbours' months-long border stand-off continued.

Indian security officials said there were clashes after at least 18 Chinese soldiers tried to cross into Indian-claimed territory at Naku La in Sikkim on January 20.

Soldiers on both sides were carrying firearms, but did not use them. A senior Indian Army official told the Telegraph that four Indian soldiers were wounded after they challenged the Chinese PLA soldiers. All four Indian wounded had been hospitalised, and their condition was described as stable. The officer said the number of injured Chinese was “in double figures”.

An official army statement gave few details, describing the clash as a minor stand-off and saying it had been "resolved by local commanders as per established protocols". The military asked journalists "to refrain from overplaying or exaggerating" the incident.

Zhao Lijian, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, urged India "not to take any unilateral action that may further complicate or exacerbate the border tension." Yet an opinion piece in China's Global Times, a hawkish state-owned tabloid, said the reports were false and blamed Indian rumour-mongering.

Tensions have been high since May when deadly clashes erupted high in the Karakoram mountains along the poorly defined frontier between the rivals.

Both sides have mobilized tens of thousands of soldiers, artillery and fighter aircraft along the fiercely contested border known as the Line of Actual Control, or LAC, that separates Chinese and Indian-held territories from Ladakh in the west to India's eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety.

May's brawl exploded into hand-to-hand combat with clubs, stones and fists on June 15 that left 20 Indian soldiers dead. China is believed to also have had casualties, but has not given any details.

Indian and Chinese army commanders met for the ninth round of talks after a gap of two-and-a-half months in Ladakh on Sunday but neither side released any details of the outcome.