India, China had brief face-off in Tawang last week: Reports
Indian and Chinese troops were reportedly engaged in yet another face-off last week along the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh. The face-off happened when the Indian Army intercepted around 200 soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) close to the border at Tawang. The engagement reportedly lasted for a few hours before the issue was resolved at a local commander-level talk.
According to reports, the transgression by PLA took place between the border pass of Bum La and Yangtse, close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The PLA reportedly attempted to damage unoccupied bunkers on the Indian side. Notably, the Indian Army strongly contested the Chinese intrusion, and a few Chinese soldiers were temporarily detained, CNN-News18 reported.
Reports said both sides disengaged after the issue was resolved as per existing protocols. "The matter was subsequently resolved at the local military commanders' level. The Chinese soldiers were released, and the situation was defused," a source informed CNN-News18. While there is no official comment on the incident from the Indian Army, reports claimed no damage was caused to the Indian defenses.
Arunachal Pradesh has witnessed similar Chinese intrusions in the past. In 2011, China tried to build a 250-meter-long wall on the Indian side of the LAC. In 2016, Chinese troops crossed over to the Indian side at Yangtse and returned after a few hours.
Tawang is a strategically significant location as it provides geographical access to the entire Brahmaputra Valley and other parts of Arunachal Pradesh. From a military perspective, Tawang aids Indian forces' deployment in other parts of Arunachal through its three major passes—Bomdilla, Nechiphu, and Se La—a defense official told CNN-News18. Tawang is also the Indian forces' line of communication to the Guwahati and Siliguri corridor.
Incidentally, China had captured Tawang within the first few days of the 1962 war with India. Tawang notably provides easy access to the Brahmaputra plains and also opens the door to Tezpur in Assam.
The latest transgression comes days after a similar intrusion by PLA was reported from Uttarakhand's Barahoti. These intrusions are reported when India and China are preparing for the 13th round of Corps Commander-level talks in eastern Ladakh for disengagement at the Hot Springs area. Thus, the latest intrusions indicate that China is expanding its scope of transgression to the eastern and central sectors.
Quoting sources, CNN-News18 reported that the lack of a formally demarcated border often leads to tensions along the India-China border. "There is a difference in perception of the LAC between the countries. Peace and tranquility in these areas of differing perceptions has been possible by adhering to existing agreements and protocols between the two countries," the source said.