TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Indian and Chinese troops clashed in the disputed border area of the Nathu La pass in India’s Sikkim state, where the situation was described as “tense but stable,” according to Indian media.
A Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) patrol attempted to cross into Indian territory on Friday (Jan. 22) and was pushed back by Indian troops, resulting in a fight that left around 20 PLA soldiers injured, as well as four from the Indian side, per India Today. Even so, no shots were fired.
The incident, which was not revealed until Monday (Jan. 25), occurred just before India and China began their ninth round of military-to-military talks to resolve disputes around the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Eastern Ladakh region. The marathon talks went for 16 hours, and the results have not yet been made public.
The Indian army played down the fight in a statement released Monday, in which it described the scuffle as a “minor face-off” that had been “resolved by local commanders as per established protocols.”
The 3,440 km Sino-Indian border, composed largely of rugged terrain, has long been disputed and a war was fought in the region in 1962, which India is considered to have lost. For decades, disputes between the two countries ceased to be violent, but that began to change last year.
On June 15, 2020, Indian and Chinese soldiers wielding clubs and knives engaged in a melee in the Galwan Valley, leaving 20 Indian soldiers dead and an undisclosed number of their Chinese counterparts. The incident sent relations between the two nations into a tailspin, and negotiations for a de-escalation have since followed.