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India-China border clashes erupted on December 9, says Delhi

December 12, 2022

Troops from both sides briefly engaged in fresh clashes on the disputed Himalayan border, according to Indian army officials. Several Indian and Chinese troops were reportedly injured.

Indian Army soldiers demonstrate positioning of a Bofors gun at Penga Teng Tso ahead of Tawang, near the Line of Actual Control (LAC)
India said the brief clashes erupted along the Tawang sector of Arunachal PradeshImage: MONEY SHARMA/AFP

The Indian army said on Monday that soldiers from India and China clashed last week along the two countries' disputed Himalayan border.

It was the first reported standoff between troops from the two Asian giants since deadly clashes in 2020 strained their already tense relations. 

What we know about the fresh clashes

An army statement said Indian and Chinese troops "immediately disengaged" after the clash, which left soldiers from both sides with minor injuries.

The clashes took place on Friday, December 9, along the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh, according to India. 

"There was hand-to-hand fighting between Chinese and Indian troops on December 9. Indian troops stopped PLA (People's Liberation Army) troops from entering our territory," Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh told parliament on Tuesday. 

He also added that he had raised the matter "diplomatically" with his Chinese counterpart. 

China, meanwhile, said the situation was "stable" on its border with India.

"As far as we understand, the China-India border situation is stable overall," Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday, adding the two sides "maintained unobstructed dialogue on the border issue through diplomatic and military channels."

China lays claim to the eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which borders the Tibet Autonomous Region, considering it part of that territory. 

Indian army sources were quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that the clashes started when Chinese soldiers came close to the de facto border, sparking a "firm and resolute" response from Indian troops. 

India-China border tensions

Troops from both sides have adhered to long-standing protocols to avoid the use of firearms along the frontier, known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The LAC separates Chinese and Indian-held territories from Ladakh in the west to Arunachal Pradesh.

Map of India-China border region

Clashes between troops from the two countries  in 2020 in Ladakh killed at least 20 Indian and at least four Chinese soldiers. 

Both sides agreed to disengage from the key friction point of Ladakh in September after multiple meetings between military commanders.

In 1962, China and India fought a war over their 3,800-kilometer (2,360-mile) disputed border. While the area has since been largely peaceful, it remained a thorny point of contention between the two Asian giants. 

Delhi has strategically deepened its security cooperation with the West, even before the 2020 standoff. 

This includes stronger Indian ties with its so-called Quad allies — the US, Japan and Australia — to counter Chinese influence in the region, as well as major modernization of its armed forces.

Since the 2020 clashes, Indian and some international media have often reported on India redeploying some military divisions from its border with Pakistan — Delhi's longtime rival — to the disputed areas with China.

China, meanwhile, has sought to strengthen its ties with Pakistan as India fosters closer ties with NATO powers than it had as a non-aligned actor during the Cold War.

fb/msh (AFP, AP, Efe, Reuters)