India and China accused each other Tuesday of making provocative military maneuvers and firing warning shots along their disputed border, despite ongoing talks to end escalating tensions.
China said Indian forces Monday crossed into territory it holds along the disputed border and fired warning shots at a Chinese patrol in what Beijing called a violation of their agreements.
India denied the charge and said that Chinese soldiers had tried to surround one of their forward posts in a "grave provocation,” in which warning shots were fired.
The nuclear-armed rivals have been engaged in a tense standoff in the cold desert terrain of the Ladakh region since May, while their defense ministers met Friday in Moscow in the first direct, high-level contact between the sides since the standoff began.
China’s western military command said the incursion occurred Monday along the southern coast of Pangong Lake in an area known in Chinese as Shenpaoshan. On the Indian side, the area is known as Chushul and is the location in which the two countries' local military commanders have held several rounds of talks to defuse the tense standoff.
After shots were fired, Chinese forces took "necessary measures to stabilize and control the situation,” the command said, in a statement citing spokesman Zhang Shuili. It demanded the Indian forces withdraw and investigate the firing of shots.
Col. Aman Anand, an Indian army spokesman, said China continues "provocative activities to escalate” tensions along the front line and called China’s military statement an attempt to mislead domestic and international audiences.
Anand said that Chinese soldiers had tried to surround an Indian military post and fired a few shots in the air when the Indian soldiers "dissuaded” them, adding that Indian troops "exercised great restraint.”
He accused China’s military of "blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive maneuvers while engagement at military, diplomatic and political level is in progress.”
There was no word of casualties on either side.
Late last month, India said its soldiers had thwarted the Chinese military’s moves "to change the status quo” in violation of a consensus reached amid past efforts to settle the standoff. In turn, China also accused Indian troops of crossing established lines of control.
The activity last month and on Monday was alleged to have occurred on the southern bank of Pangong Lake, a glacial lake divided by the de facto frontier and where the India-China face-off began on its northern flank in early May.
The standoff resulted in a deadly nighttime clash on June 15 – the deadliest incident to occur in the conflict between the nuclear-armed rivals in 45 years.
According to Indian officials, Chinese troops atop a ridge at the mouth of the narrow Galwan Valley threw stones, punched and pushed Indian soldiers down the ridge at around 4,500 meters (15,000 feet). India said 20 of its soldiers were killed, including a colonel. China did not report any casualties.
The disputed and unmarked 3,500-kilometer (2,175-mile) border between India and China, referred to as the Line of Actual Control, stretches from the Ladakh region in the north to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. According to China, the frontier is about 2,000 kilometers and claims the entire Arunachal Pradesh as its territory.
The nuclear-armed giants fought a border war in 1962 that also spilled into Ladakh and ended in an uneasy truce.
Beijing and New Delhi have been trying to settle their border dispute since the early 1990s, without success.
India unilaterally declared Ladakh a federal territory and separated it from disputed Kashmir in August 2019, ending its semi-autonomous status.
The move further strained the relationship between India and China, which raised the issue at international forums, including the United Nations Security Council.
In a symbolic move amid soaring tensions, India has banned scores of Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok, citing privacy concerns that it said pose a threat to India’s sovereignty and security.