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Confrontation in Arunachal?

By Mary Trewartha  /  January 9, 2018;

“There is no troop confrontation […] It’s not a Doklam-like situation”. The Times of India has quoted Indian security establishment officials as playing down the latest incident on the Arunachal Pradesh-Tibetan border. In the last days of December, Chinese road construction workers crossed the border into the Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh and commenced building a 12-feet wide, one kilometre-long track inside Indian territory until they were stopped by Indian troops.

The Times of India quote continued, “The issue is being resolved through the established coordination mechanism (flag and border personnel meetings) between the two countries … the Chinese will be asked to take their road-construction equipment back”.

This latest incursion comes only four months after the 73-day stand-off at Doklam near where the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet borders meet.

File photo

The Indian Express reported their sources as “denying a Doklam-like eyeball-to-eyeball face-off between the two sides at the construction site on the LAC, and said there was no direct contact between Indian and Chinese soldiers during the incident.”The Chinese road construction workers retreated in the face of the India troops who are reported as having seized their equipment, including two excavators. The Indian army has barricaded the area and maintained a presence there.

The border between India and Tibet has been a source of aggression between China and India since China’s take over of Tibet in the 1950s. The border – or Line of Actual Control (LAC) – was agreed between Britain, India and Tibet in 1914 but has never been recognised by China who regularly cross the border into Indian territory and are building up troops and infrastructure on the Tibet side of the border. China regards Arunachal Pradesh as Chinese territory. India maintains a strong military presence in Arunachal.

The Times of India has quoted Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang in Beijing as saying that his country had “never acknowledged the existence of so-called Arunachal Pradesh”, while maintaining he was “unaware” about any Chinese intrusion in the Tuting area last month.

The Tuting area, where this latest incursion took place, has not seen border tensions in the past, and it is unusual for such activity to take place in the winter.

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