India detains Chinese soldier at flashpoint border

Published January 9, 2021
In this 2017 file photo,  Indian army trucks drive near Pangong Tso lake near the India China border in India's Ladakh area. — AP
In this 2017 file photo, Indian army trucks drive near Pangong Tso lake near the India China border in India's Ladakh area. — AP

Indian forces have detained a Chinese soldier on the disputed Himalayan frontier where the world's two most populous countries fought a deadly battle last year, the military said on Saturday.

It is the second detention on the high altitude border since the pitched battles in June in which 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops were killed.

Both sides have since poured tens of thousands of troops and heavy weaponry into the tension zone in the Ladakh region, currently in the grip of freezing winter temperatures.

The Indian army said in a statement that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldier was “apprehended” on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control, as the border is known, in the early hours of Friday and taken into custody.

“The PLA soldier is being dealt with as per laid down procedures, and circumstances under which he had crossed the LAC are being investigated,” the statement added.

The People's Liberation Army Daily, which is run by China's military, said the soldier went missing in “the darkness and complicated terrain” and insisted India was informed.

“India should strictly abide by the relevant agreements between the two countries, and promptly transfer the missing person to China, to help with cooling and de-escalating the China-Indian border situation,” the military newspaper added.

Another Chinese soldier was briefly held by Indian forces in the same region in October.

India and China have disputed their frontier for seven decades and fought a brief war in 1962. The two sides blame each other for the current standoff. The neighbours have held several rounds of disengagement talks but failed to ease the military buildup.

India's foreign ministry said on Friday that the two sides have agreed to a new round of talks between senior commanders.

“In the meantime, both sides have maintained communication at the ground level to avoid any misunderstandings and misjudgements,” it said in a statement.

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