India’s government vows, “there won’t be any compromises” in the country’s defense of its border with China as tensions along the shared boundary continue to escalate, sources in the Indian government told the Times of India (TOI) on Wednesday.
Top Indian government sources told the TOI on Wednesday that India will continue to “defend its interests resolutely” and deploy “appropriate resources” for a peaceful resolution of the country’s escalating dispute with China along the nations’ shared border in the eastern Ladakh region near the Himalayas.
According to the report, so far the Indian Army has moved 10,000-12,000 soldiers forward to their “operational alert areas” along the border while China has deployed about 1,200-1,500 soldiers to the Ladakh area. China has also reportedly sent an additional 5,000 troops to the Ladakh border from a separate operation in the region.
According to the Hindustan Times, India has been constructing a road in Ladakh along the border called the Darbuk-Shyok-DBO road that will provide India with a significant regional advantage “in terms of access and military mobilization” once completed.
“The Darbuk-Shyok-DBO road will be completed this year and will raise the Indian capacity to rapidly deploy in the area,” a national security planner in the Indian government told the newspaper on Wednesday.
According to the report, “China wants to stop” the construction of this road to prevent any advantages it could allow India in Ladakh, which has led to the recent standoff. Reportedly, China’s plans to curtail India’s infrastructure development along the border include recruiting its regional ally, Pakistan, to deploy troops to an area it administers in Kashmir. Ladakh pertains to the greater region of Kashmir, which is also disputed by India, China, and Pakistan.
China plans to intimidate India by “deliberately initiating troop movement in [the] neighboring Gilgit-Baltistan region [in Kashimir],” according to the report, although this has yet to be documented.
On Wednesday, Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, voiced his support of China in its border dispute with India. In an interview with Pakistani state television, the foreign minister described India’s infrastructure development in Ladakh as “illegal,” a claim that India denies. Qureshi said that China “cannot remain oblivious to India’s illegal constructions” in the region.
On Wednesday, Indian government sources speaking to the TOI insisted that recent military construction in Ladakh was perfectly legal.
“All activities and border patrols by India were being undertaken well within its own side of the LAC [Line of Actual Control] in eastern Ladakh,” the sources asserted.
“But despite that, the Chinese obstructed the Indian patrols. The two sides are engaged diplomatically, both here and in Beijing to address the issue, but there won’t be any compromise when it comes to the defense of our territory,” one source said.
“The situation is serious but not alarming. The Indian Army position is clear that it will not allow the status quo to be changed unilaterally by PLA [China’s People’s Liberation Army] soldiers, who have intruded 1-3 km into what India considers to be its territory,” said another source.
“Indian troops will not budge an inch from their forward positions but will take care not to unnecessarily provoke the PLA troops as per the laid down protocols between the two sides … hotline talks are being held at the colonel, brigadier, and major-general levels, but without any breakthrough as yet,” the source added.
Last week, high-level Indian and Chinese military commanders met at designated points along the LAC in Ladakh to try to resolve the standoff. In New Delhi and Beijing, diplomats have been working toward a peaceful solution as well.
On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian described the situation at the border with India as “overall stable and controllable,” during a media briefing in New Delhi held to address the border crisis.
“We are committed to safeguarding our territorial sovereignty and security and safeguarding peace and stability in the border areas. Now the China-India border area situation is overall stable and controllable,” Zhao said.
China and India have been engaged in an ongoing standoff along their shared border in India’s eastern region of Ladakh for the past few weeks. On May 18, India “rushed troops” to its border with China in Ladakh hours after the PLA said it had “bolstered” its military presence there. On May 12, the Indian Air Force ordered fighter jets deployed to Ladakh for regular patrols of the area after Chinese helicopters flew unusually close to Indian airspace. The Chinese aircraft reportedly pushed beyond the aerial buffer zone previously agreed upon between the two nations. On May 9, a skirmish between 150 Chinese and Indian troops broke out on the ground along the border.