Beijing has reportedly denied any knowledge or involvement in an alleged attempt this week by Chinese troops to get into a territory controlled by India, China’s neighbor and regional rival.
On Tuesday, Indian troops thwarted the Chinese military’s effort to enter Indian territory along the banks of the Pangong lake in Ladakh, which resulted in “stone pelting that caused minor injuries to people on both sides,” reports the Press Trust of India (PTI).
“I am not aware of the information,” responded Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, when asked on Wednesday about the incident, according to PTI.
“The Chinese side is committed to peace and tranquillity of the China-India border,” also said the spokeswoman, adding, “We urge the Indian side abide by the LAC [Line of Actual Control] and relevant conventions between the two sides.”
LAC refers to the border shared by the two countries. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson insisted that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) only patrols along the Chinese side of the LAC.
“The skirmish in Ladakh comes at a time when India and China are locked in a face-off in the Doklam area of the Sikkim [border] sector. The standoff has been ongoing for more than 50 days after Indian troops stopped the Chinese Army from constructing a road in the area,” notes PTI.
India is reportedly concerned that the road would allow Beijing to deny India access to its northeastern states.
China is the most powerful Asian country, but it considers India its military and economic rival.
According to the annual Jane’s Defense Budgets Report issued by the research firm IHS Markit late last year, India joined the list of the top five defense spenders in the world.
More than $50 billion devoted to its military budget placed India in fourth place. The United States, China, and the United Kingdom respectively hold the top three defense budgets in the world.
Nevertheless, China remains one of Pakistan’s top allies.
Pakistan, India, and China all have competing claims to the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir.
While clashes between India and Pakistan have escalated in the Himalayan region, China has stayed on the sidelines.
The primary purpose of Beijing’s assistance to Islamabad is to contain the rise of their mutual rival India, revealed a report to Congress issued by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
China “exploits” the rivalry between India and Pakistan in places like Kashmir to keep India in check and prevent it from mounting “a serious challenge to China’s power and influence in Asia,” explains the commission.
Meanwhile, the government of India is reportedly attempting to capitalize on its good relationship with President Donald Trump’s administration to expand its influence in Asia amid U.S.-China tensions over the South China Sea.
“Although China has never intervened in an India-Pakistan conflict on Pakistan’s behalf, its diplomatic, material, training, and intelligence support have enabled Pakistan to present a formidable military challenge to India,” notes the U.S. commission in its report to Congress.
China and India share an estimated 2,500-mile-long border. While China does not border mainland Pakistan, it does border Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.