Indian Gen. Bipin Rawat, the chief of India’s defense staff, told reporters on Friday that although China has recently built villages along its unmarked Himalayan boundary with India, the outposts are “well within” the Chinese side of the border, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.
“They are building this infrastructure, [these] kind of so-called villages, which are well within their side of the LAC. They have not transgressed anywhere on our perception of the LAC,” Gen. Rawat told reporters on November 12. He referred to the LAC, or “Line of Actual Control,” which is New Delhi’s official name for the unmarked India-China border in the Himalayas.
“The present controversy that has erupted — that the Chinese have come across into our territory and built a new village — is not true,” Gen. Rawat said Friday.
“[A]s far as we are concerned, no such village development has taken place on our side of the LAC,” he added.
Gen. Rawat’s remarks came in response to comments by India’s Ministry of External Affairs on November 11. The ministry had addressed a U.S. Department of Defense report published in November 2020 which claimed that “sometime in 2020, the PRC [People’s Republic of China] built a large 100-home civilian village inside disputed territory between the PRC’s Tibet Autonomous Region and India’s Arunachal Pradesh state in the eastern sector of the LAC.”
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi reacted to the U.S. defense report’s claims in a statement issued November 12.
“China has undertaken construction activities in the past several years along the border areas including in the areas that it has illegally occupied over the decades,” Bagchi said. “India has neither accepted such illegal occupation of our territory nor has it accepted the unjustified Chinese claims.”
India and China have been engaged in a border standoff along their unmarked Himalayan boundary since June 2020, when border regiments representing each side clashed in a fatal skirmish in the Galwan Valley of northern India’s Ladakh state. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said on November 6 it had recently carried out “multiple drills in its western plateau over the past week,” referring to China’s western frontier region bordering India.
“An artillery regiment affiliated with the PLA Xinjiang Military Command recently conducted a comprehensive, cross-day-and-night exercise in a high-altitude region,” the state-run China Central Television (CCTV) reported.
The exercises involved “live-fire shooting of PCL-181 155mm self-propelled howitzers and PHL-11 122mm multiple rocket launchers, as the drill tested the troops’ fire strike efficiency and combat capabilities under the harsh cold in plateau regions,” CCTV detailed.