New Delhi, June 12: China has occupied more than sixty square kilometres of Indian territory in eastern Ladakh, according to a senior Indian Army source, in a dramatic escalation of the simmering tension between the two Asian superpowers, London based The Telegraph reported.
The Daily Telegraph reported that it can reveal that up to 12,000 Chinese troops pushed over the border into India last month amid border clashes as Beijing looks to slap down Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his ever-closer relationship with the United States.
The move echoes Xi Jinping’s expansionism in the South China Sea where Beijing have moved to construct military bases in contested territory and has been unchallenged due to its superior military, it added.
The United Nations is calling for restraint, and wants talks between the two nations to any escalation of the conflict.
Konchok Stanzin, a councillor from the Chushul constituency, where the incursion has taken place, told The Telegraph: “In the past, we have witnessed face-off between two armies and the situation would cool down within hours.
“It’s the first time we are seeing standoff for over a month. We are worried for our lives and our land.”
There have been reports this week of some de-escalation, but it is unclear whether this is rooted in on-the-ground movement, or is simply India trying to save face, The daily telegraph reported.
Beijing and New Delhi have patrolled either side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which splits Chinese Tibet from Indian Ladakh since a ceasefire was agreed in 1962.
Indian patrols in eastern Ladakh pause over winter and spring as heavy snowfall in the Himalayas makes terrain treacherous.
But the coronavirus pandemic meant they were slow to reinforce this year and Chinese troops took advantage, crossing over the LAC on May 5 and 6 at four locations.
A total of forty square kilometres were occupied at Pangong Tso and twenty square kilometres at Galwan River, with smaller incursions at Hot Springs and Demchok, a senior Indian Army source told the Telegraph.
Seventy Indian troops were injured in fist-fighting and stone-throwing as they tried to stop the advance.
Weapons are not used when Chinese and Indian soldiers clash, as this is understood as a full declaration of war.
India, which is admitting Chinese troops are present in “sizeable numbers”, is trying to use ongoing bilateral talks to persuade China to retreat from the areas it has occupied.
But China is understood to have built defences at Pangong Tso and moved up to 12,000 troops to the new frontier, according to well-placed sources.
India has also scaled up the presence of troops, transported artillery and Boforus guns to Ladakh.
Confronting India along the border is Beijing’s way of putting New Delhi in its place – Chinese officials are unwilling to tolerate what they view as growing swagger from India, a strategic competitor and neighbour, under Mr. Modi.