China calls for return of soldier who India is holding after he disappeared on border

China calls for return of soldier who India is holding after he disappeared on border

Agence France-Presse

·2-min read
 
 
Activists of Bharatiya Janta Party's (BJP) Youth Wing shout slogans as they burn a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping - RAMINDER PAL SINGH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock
Activists of Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) Youth Wing shout slogans as they burn a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping – RAMINDER PAL SINGH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock

Indian forces have detained a Chinese soldier on the disputed Himalayan frontier where the world’s two most populous countries fought a deadly battle last year, the military said Saturday.

It is the second detention on the high altitude border since the pitched battles in June in which 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops were killed.

Both sides have since poured tens of thousands of troops and heavy weaponry into the tension zone in the Ladakh region, currently in the grip of freezing winter temperatures.

An Indian Army official said the Chinese soldier would be released on Monday after completion of all formalities and the investigation to ascertain the circumstance under which he crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC).   

“Formalities are underway to return the Chinese soldier at Chushul border meeting point in Ladakh where two armies have conducted eight rounds of talks since the crisis erupted in May 2019,” he said.

The People’s Liberation Army Daily, which is run by China’s military, said the soldier went missing in “the darkness and complicated terrain” and insisted India was informed.

An Indian Army truck crosses Chang la pass near Pangong Lake in Ladakh region, India - Manish Swarup /AP
An Indian Army truck crosses Chang la pass near Pangong Lake in Ladakh region, India – Manish Swarup /AP

“India should strictly abide by the relevant agreements between the two countries, and promptly transfer the missing person to China, to help with cooling and de-escalating the China-Indian border situation,” the military newspaper added.

India and China have disputed their frontier for seven decades and fought a brief war in 1962. The two sides blame each other for the current standoff.

The neighbours have held several rounds of disengagement talks but failed to ease the military buildup.

India’s foreign ministry said Friday that the two sides have agreed to a new round of talks between senior commanders.

“In the meantime, both sides have maintained communication at the ground level to avoid any misunderstandings and misjudgements,” it said in a statement.

This is the second incident since October when Indian Army captured a PLA soldier, identified as Corporal Wang Ya Long, near Demchok area of Ladakh. The PLA soldier was carrying civil and military documents when he was captured in Ladakh by the Indian Army. He was later released.

China annexed nearly 60 sq km of Indian territory and killed at least 20 Indian soldiers in a violent clash in June last year in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh.