India says troops preempted Chinese military activity on the southern bank of Pangong Lake, which is divided by the de facto frontier between the rivals.

An Indian fighter jet flies over a mountain range in Leh, the joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh, on August 31, 2020.
An Indian fighter jet flies over a mountain range in Leh, the joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh, on August 31, 2020. (AFP)

India and China have accused each other of military provocation on their contested Himalayan border where a deadly showdown erupted in June.

India on Monday said its soldiers stopped “provocative” military movements by China near a disputed Himalayan border in Ladakh region, even as commanders from the two sides held talks aimed at easing tensions.

The People’s Liberation Army “carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo” and “violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements” to settle the standoff in the cold-desert region, a statement by India’s Defence Ministry said.

China's military said Indian troops had crossed the border on Monday near Pangong, a lake at 4,200 metres (13,500 feet), and engaged in "open provocation and caused the border situation to become tense".

"The Chinese military is taking necessary countermeasures," the People's Liberation Army's regional command said in a statement, accusing India of "seriously violating China's territorial sovereignty".

Earlier in Beijing, foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said border forces were communicating over recent matters but gave no details.

“Chinese border troops always act in strict compliance with the Line of Actual Control, and have never crossed the line for any activities,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing.

India’s defense ministry issued its statement after a gap of a day and did not give details of the nature of the new incident.

Indian troops preempted the Chinese military activity on the southern bank of Pangong Lake, the statement added. The glacial lake is divided by the de facto frontier between the rivals and is one of the three sites where the India-China face-off began in early May.

The statement confirmed the two countries local military commanders met along the disputed frontier on Monday to “resolve the issues.” 

READ MORE: What’s behind the China-India border dispute?

Deadliest standoff in decades

The countries have a long history of border dispute which led to a deadly clash in June where a reported 20 Indian troops were killed in the Ladakh region.

Several rounds of military and diplomatic talks to end the current crisis in Ladakh have been unsuccessful.

The disputed and undemarcated 3,500-kilometre (2,175-mile) border between India and China stretches from Ladakh in the north to the Indian state of Sikkim. The two Asia giants fought a border war in 1962 that also spilt into Ladakh. The two countries have been trying to settle their border dispute since the early 1990s, without success.

READ MORE: Timeline: the Line of Actual Control between China and India

The ongoing standoff high in the Karakoram mountains is over disputed portions of a pristine landscape that boasts the world’s highest landing strip, a glacier that feeds one of the largest irrigation systems in the world, and a critical link to China’s massive “Belt and Road” infrastructure project.

The face-off began at three places. 

Soldiers at the 134 kilometres- (84-miles) long scenic lake ignored repeated verbal warnings, triggering a yelling match, stone-throwing and even fistfights. By June it escalated and spread to two other places toward the north in Depsang and Galwan Valley where India has built an all-weather military road along the disputed frontier.

On June 15, the situation turned deadly when the rival troops engaged in a nighttime medieval clash in Galwan.

According to Indian officials, Chinese troops atop a ridge at the mouth of the narrow valley threw stones, punched and pushed Indian soldiers down a ridge at around 4,500 metres (15,000 feet) leaving 20 Indians dead, including a colonel. China did not report any casualties.

It was the deadliest conflict in 45 years between the nuclear-armed rivals. Accusing each other of instigating the violence, both sides pledged to safeguard their territory but also to try to end the standoff that dramatically changed India-China bilateral relationship.

Following the June clash relations between the world's two most populous nations have continued to be tense as India banned 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, over national security and privacy concerns.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies