China has accused Indian troops of firing warning shots at People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers while patrolling borders in the Pangong Lake area of Ladakh.
China’s military has said its border defence forces “were forced to take countermeasures to stabilise the situation on the ground”, however it is unclear what these were.
Colonel Zhang Shuili of the PLA said India had seriously violated agreements made by both sides, which has “stirred up tensions in the region” and “would easily cause misunderstandings and misjudgements”.
However, the Indian military has rejected these claims, saying: “At no stage has the Indian Army transgressed across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) or resorted to use of any aggressive means, including firing.”
It added: “While India is committed to disengagement and de-escalating situation on the LAC, China continues to undertake provocative activities to escalate.
“It is the PLA that has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres, while engagement at military, diplomatic and political level is in progress.”
This would be the first time in 45 years that firing has taken place, breaking a 1996 agreement by both countries stating no firearms or explosives would be used on the border.
India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, spoke to the Indian Express, describing the situation as “very serious” with a “very very deep conversation” needed between the two sides.
“If peace and tranquillity on the border is not a given, then it cannot be that the rest of the relationship continues on the same basis, because clearly peace and tranquillity is the basis for the relationship,” he said.
Tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours have escalated over the last few months at several points along the 2100-mile border.
On 15 June, soldiers from both militaries fought hand to hand combat in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh.
A total of 20 Indian soldiers died and many were injured – China is believed to have suffered casualties but hasn’t released details.
Many talks have taken place between military commanders of both sides to deescalate the tensions, but they have not found a solution yet.
Both sides have increased the number of military personnel and equipment on the borders.
There are reports of tanks facing each other at a distance of about 900 metres.
China has deployed J-20 long-range fighter jets on its side of the border. India has matched it with Sukhoi 30s and Mirage 2000 fighter planes along key frontier air bases.
Reviewing operational preparedness last week, the Indian army chief general, M.M.Naravane, said the situation along the border was “tense”.
In a White House briefing on Friday, US President Donald Trump said: “China and India are going at it pretty good on the border, as you know. It has been very nasty. If we can do anything, we would love to get involved and help. And we are talking to both countries about that.”
This is the first time such a serious situation has arisen since the 1962 war where India faced defeat.
India’s foreign minister, Mr Jaishankar, is set to meet his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on 10 September in Moscow on the sidelines of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
The political talks are taking place after military exchanges produced no resolution.