Soldiers from both sides have been camped out in the Galwan Valley in the high-altitude Ladakh region of India-administered Kashmir, accusing each other of trespassing over the disputed frontier. Indian officials briefed that about 80 to 100 tents have sprung up on the Chinese side and about 60 on the Indian side.

Both sides, reportedly, were digging defenses and Chinese trucks have been moving equipment into the area, the officials said, raising concerns of a long stand-off. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson’s office statement says that China is committed to safeguarding the security of its national territorial sovereignty, as well as safeguarding peace and stability in the China-India border areas.

About 5,000 soldiers, as well as additional vehicles and arms, have been deployed by both countries, continuing the build-up of forces in the Ladakh region. Diplomats have begun talks after negotiations between Indian and Chinese military officials on May 22-23 brought no results, says the most recent report from South China Morning Post.

“In June 2017, Indian soldiers in Sikkim took Chinese border guards completely by surprise when they crossed into Bhutan and physically blocked the Chinese road construction crew from extending a track into disputed territory. Eventually, hundreds of Indian soldiers stood face-to-face with as many Chinese for over two months, before New Delhi and Beijing negotiated a mutual withdrawal that saved face for the Chinese.   Today, it is the Indians who have been taken by surprise,” wrote the former Indian military officer and defense expert Ajai Shukla in Business Standard.
Image courtesy: The Tribune.

“Currently, government sources assess there are close to 10,000 soldiers of China on Indian territory. Dialogue is frozen, with the Chinese rebuffing Indian calls for flag meetings to resolve the situation,” Ajai Shukla said.

What triggered the recent flare-up?

PM Narendra Modi’s government has pushed for improving connectivity and has plans to build as many as 66 key roads along the Chinese border by the year 2022. One of these roads is near the Galwan valley that connects to the Indian airbase.

“The road is very important because it runs parallel to the Line of Actual Control and is linked at various points with the major supply bases inland,” says another former Indian foreign secretary.

India has decided to not back down from a standoff with China — along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh and has moved troops to counter Chinese forces stationed in the region, Hindustan Times quoted people familiar with the matter as saying.

“When Modi threatens Pakistan on Indus water China plays with Brahmaputra water upstream. When Modi puts pressure on Nepal to change the border at Lipulekh China crosses LAC and intrudes Indian controlled areas in Ladakh. China’s plan is simple – To put Modi in his place!,” says Professor of Peace and Conflict Research Ashok Swain.