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China and India renew calls to cool tense border stand-off

REPORT-1-ENG-02-10-2020-India (1)

China and India agreed on Wednesday not to further escalate tensions after a series of violent Himalayan border clashes led to a heavy military build-up in the region.

According to China’s foreign ministry, officials from both sides used a regular meeting about the disputed border region to exchange views and repeat pledges to cool tensions that first began in May.

However, the meeting was overshadowed by military exercises from both countries.

One the day of the meeting, India test-fired surface-to-surface BrahMos missiles with a range of 400km (248 miles), according to a statement from the defence ministry. India has already deployed BrahMos missiles along the border with China in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.

On Sunday, China announced successful tests of high-altitude autonomous helicopter drones in the mountainous Sichuan region.

During the latest meeting, the two sides promised not to take action that would escalate border tensions and avoid misunderstandings, according to statements from both countries’ foreign ministries.

“In this context, the need to strengthen communication, especially between the ground commanders, was emphasised by both sides,” India’s foreign ministry said.

China said both sides agreed to calm the situation and took steps to avoid complications.

The officials said China and India agreed to hold a round of meetings between the troop commanders in the border region soon, though they gave no specific timetable.

In mid-September, high-level officials from China and India brokered an agreement in Moscow to de-escalate the tensions. Last week they agreed not to send more military personnel to the border.

But the two sides seem to be preparing for a long winter stand-off.

Indian media reports said the military had moved in personnel carriers and Russian-made tanks near the Line of Actual Control – the disputed China-India border – over the weekend to prepare for the frigid high mountain winter. Tens of thousands of troops remain on either side of the border, according to the reports.

On Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused India of building new defensive infrastructure along the border region. He also said India had made “illegal” moves by making the border area of Ladakh an official union territory last year. He did not specify what laws had been broken.