India and China continue to blame each other for confrontations on their border over the past months.
By Dewi Morris | Political Editor
The border between the two nuclear states is over 3440km long, and territorial claims overlap, meaning there are large areas that both India and China claim.
Over the past months, tensions have escalated between the two global superpowers in the Himalayan region.
Back in June at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed during hand-to-hand combat. The fighting took place in the Galwan valley on the Kashmiri border between North Western India and China. Kashmir is a region on the crossroads between Pakistan, India and China, and its borders are often disputed.
On Monday, September 7, shots were fired along the unofficial border for the first time in decades.
According to a statement from Beijing, Indian soldiers crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on their western border and “opened fire to threaten the Chinese border defence patrol officers.”
China accuses India of “severe military provocation” while India maintains its soldiers did not cross the disputed border.
New Delhi gave a different side to the story, accusing Chinese soldiers of “blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres”. The statement added “despite the grave provocation, [India’s] own troops exercised great restraint and behaved in a mature and responsible manner”.
Meeting between the nuclear-nations’ defence ministers
On September 4, India and China’s defence ministers met in Moscow for what was the first high-level contact between the countries since tensions escalated months ago.
The meeting apparently lasted for two hours and 20 minutes. The two-sides reportedly decided to de-escalate tensions to “maintain peace and tranquillity” in the area, according to China’s defence ministry.
However, the Chinese defence ministry stated after the meeting that the blame for escalated tensions “lies completely with India” and “not one inch of Chinese territory can be lost”.
Could the tensions trigger military conflict?
India and China have only ever been at war once (in 1962), however, could recent escalations lead to military conflict?
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China’s President Xi Jinping have met 18 times since Modi was elected in 2014. However this close relationship cannot be a measure of kinship between the two most populated countries in the world as India have recently banned Chinese tech and China-linked apps including TikTok.
Reuters were told by a US Government source that the US suspects China and India would not continue escalating tensions to the point of war, however, President Trump has said the two countries are “going at it much more strongly than a lot of people even understand” and claims the US would “love to get involved and help”.
While the meeting between India and China’s defence minister may have seemed like a positive start to de-escalation, the recent stand-off on Monday, September 7, seems to have undone any progress.