India-China standoff: Beijing U-turns on deal as more posts set up in Depsang

China: Satellite images show activity near India border

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New footage has captured a permanent Chinese post in the Depsang region near the Line of Actual Control. India Today explained the latest imagery has seen additional auxiliary structures, camps, vehicles and fencing built in the region since August 2020. This is despite military commanders agreeing to begin pulling out troops, tanks and artillery in the first step towards full withdrawal in early February.

A joint press release said: “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.”

The deployment in the remote area that falls in India’s Ladakh region and adjoins the Chinese-administered Aksai Chin plateau had raised fears of a broader conflict between the two countries.

A clash erupted in the Galwan Valley in June, when 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the first combat losses on the disputed border in more than four decades. China said this week it lost four soldiers in the fighting.

Troops remain in close proximity on other parts of the undefined border including at Hot Springs, Gogra Post and the Depsang plains, officials said.

It comes as India and China have agreed to set up a hotline between their foreign ministers as the two nuclear-armed neighbours look to reduce tensions along a disputed Himalayan border where their troops have been locked in confrontation since last summer.

The decision was reached at a lengthy call between the two foreign ministers on Thursday, India’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday, adding that New Delhi was pushing for an quick resolution to the border crisis.

On Sunday, both countries said their troops had pulled out from a lake area in the western Himalayan region of Ladakh, where thousands of soldiers backed by tanks and artillery have been facing off since April.

China: Satellite images show activity near India border

As per an agreement announced by India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in February, the two countries will now hold talks to end close proximity deployments in other parts of Ladakh.

“Once disengagement is completed at all friction points, then the two sides could also look at broader de-escalation of troops in the area and work towards restoration of peace and tranquility,” the foreign ministry statement said.

The standoff in Ladakh began last April, when India said Chinese soldiers had intruded deep into its side of the Line of Actual Control, or the de facto border.

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China said its troops were operating in its own area, accusing Indian soldiers of provocative actions.

In June, troops clashed in Ladakh’s Galwan valley, where hand-to-hand combat left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

Last week, Beijing said that four of its soldiers had been killed in the clash.

India and China share an undemarcated 3,800-km long border, where their troops previously adhered to longstanding protocols to avoid the use of any firearms.

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