China: Forces appear to clash with Indian troops in 2020
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The neighbouring rivals came close to an all-out war last year when the Indian Army occupied strategic Himalayan heights in late August. Months prior tensions between the two nuclear-armed states erupted after border clashes in the disputed Galwan Valley which saw 20 Indian soldiers killed alongside at least four Chinese troops. Indian security expert Professor Dinshaw Mistry has now warned the border skirmishes could still escalate into a more serious military confrontation between India and China.
The professor of International Relations and Asian Studies at the University of Cincinnati told Express.co.uk: “Really how far this could escalate depends on how both sides adopt mechanisms to de-escalate quickly.
“What we saw in 2020 is that they tried to de-escalate quickly in fact the clashes occurred during the de-escalation process.
“So at least what we saw in 2020 there was an intention to de-escalate quickly, the mechanisms to de-escalate, of course, commanders on the ground did not immediately adopt it.
“Which is why we saw the deaths of the soldiers on both sides.”
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He continued: “The intention of the part of the foreign policy establishment was to de-escalate but still hold firm on both sides.
“So again the simple answer is that they will try to keep the border clashes limited without de-escalation as much as they can.
“Does that mean we should not worry about escalation? No, because we see a lot of possibilities for escalation.”
Professor Mistry insisted the 2020 fighting could have easily have sparked a larger war had the clashes threatened to engulf more sensitive areas along the border.
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He told Express.co.uk: “In the future, if these clashes occur in more sensitive locations, now again this location was mostly uninhabited, not very sensitive even though there was tactical significance.
“There were no nuclear assets, no missiles in the area. To the extent that more sensitive military assets or more sensitive territory is involved in small clashes, the potential for escalation is hight.”
Both sides have said they will work to decrease tensions on other parts of the disputed Line of Actual Control.
China and India announced their intentions to withdraw troops from the area last month.
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A joint statement at the time read: “The two sides positively appraised the smooth completion of disengagement of frontline troops in the Pangong Lake area noting that it was a significant step forward that provided a good basis for resolution of other remaining issues along the LAC in Western Sector.”
Multiple rounds of negotiations between India and China have taken place at both military and diplomatic levels.
However, talks so far have failed to resolve the ongoing standoff at the disputed border.
The hand-to-hand fighting seen last year was the most serious open confrontation between the two neighbours in more than half a century.
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