ITBP, Army Turned Back Chinese Incursion in Arunachal Pradesh

The Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet before it enters Arunachal Pradesh at a spot not far from the reported incursion. Image Credit: Luca Galucci via Wikimedia Commons

Multiple reports emerging over the last few days indicate there was a brief confrontation between Indian and Chinese personnel on December 28 in Arunachal Pradesh near the LAC.

The confrontation appears to have ended, though one account suggests a standoff of sorts is still going on, with the Chinese side ‘bargaining over the custody’ of seized excavators.

Events were set rolling on December 26, after a civilian road construction party crossed the LAC into Arunachal Pradesh near Bishing, according to a detailed story by Samudra Gupta Kashyap and Sushant Singh of The Indian Express.

Bishing is an area just north from the little town of Tuting and near where the Yarlung-Tsangpo makes its S-shaped bend and enters Indian territory becoming the Siang and later downstream, the Brahmaputra.

After locals spotted the Chinese in the area, they informed the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). The ITBP and army then ‘sent a joint patrol on December 28, which asked the Chinese workers to return to their territory,’ according to Kashyap and Singh.

The Indian troops seized the two excavators, a water bowser and other construction equipment. ‘The area has been barricaded, and is being jointly manned by the ITBP and Army.’ Kashyap and Singh report.

The Chinese, according to The Indian Express, were ‘building a 12-feet wide, 1-km long track inside Indian territory.’

‘Because of the curved nature of tracks in mountain areas, it meant that the Chinese were nearly 400 metres inside Arunachal Pradesh.’

While the Indian side hasn’t yet returned the road construction equipment, most reporting indicates there’s no ongoing standoff.

‘The issue is being resolved through the established coordination mechanism between the two countries,’ an anonymous army source told The Hindu.

The incident came less than a week after the meeting of the Special Representatives on the boundary- India’s national security advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi met. It also occurred barely four months after the 72-day Doklam standoff ended.

When asked about the incursion on Wednesday, Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry disavowed any knowledge of it and said his country ‘never acknowledged the existence of so-called Arunachal Pradesh.’

China claims all of Arunachal Pradesh as part of its Tibetan territories.

The area around Bishing is not normally characterized by tension. Even last month’s incursion appears to have been a minor one and did not involve armed Chinese personnel. But ITBP and army personnel are likely to keep a sharp lookout over the coming weeks for any further encroachments.

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