NEW DELHI — India has vowed to protect its border, following reports that Chinese soldiers had set up a camp inside territory claimed by India in the Himalayas. The response from Indian Defense Minister, A.K. Antony, to reports that Chinese troops had set up a camp in the cold desert region of Ladakh was brief but firm.
“We are taking every care to protect our interests.”
Indian officials say about 50 Chinese soldiers last week pitched tents about 10 kilometers inside what New Delhi says is its territory in the Ladakh region. It is close to an area where a landing strip was established by India during a brief war fought by the two sides in 1962. The airstrip is being refurbished. The officials say that following the movement by the Chinese, Indian troops also set up a temporary camp less than 500 meters away.
Sajjad Ahmed Kitchloo, the Home Minister in Jammu and Kashmir State where Ladakh is located, urged the federal government to take action against the movement of the Chinese troops, calling it a deep incursion.
The Chinese are making repeated efforts to push inside Indian territory, and this merits serious attention, Kitchloo said.
Officials in Beijing, however, denied the incursion and said conditions on the border were peaceful and stable. Hua Chun Ying, spokesman in the Chinese foreign ministry,
said that China’s troops have been abiding by the agreement between the two countries and the line of control as set by the two countries. Chinese troops have been patrolling behind China’s line of control, he said.
Indian officials said that the two sides are in touch through diplomatic channels to defuse the latest confrontation. Military personnel from the two sides have met to address the matter.
India and China’s efforts to resolve their long-running border dispute have made little progress despite numerous rounds of talks. China claims the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which shares cultural links with Tibet. India says China occupies large chunks of a barren plateau in Kashmir.
In recent years, there have been increasing reports in the Indian media of incursions by the Chinese along the border. Some Indian analysts attribute this to growing assertiveness by the Chinese.
India has also been beefing up its military presence along the border with China and much of its defense modernization plans are aimed at containing what is seen here as a potential threat from China.