LIVE: India, China foreign ministers discuss deadly Ladakh clash

Wang Yi and Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar hold telephone talks over clash that killed 20 Indian soldiers.

0 Indian soldiers killed in India-China face-off - - KASHMIR, INDIA-JUNE 17: Indian army convoy moves along the Srinagar-Leh National highway towards Ladakh on June 17, 2020.At least 20 Indian soldier
  • The foreign ministers of China and India have held telephone talks over the deadly border clash, agreeing to “cool down” the tensions.

  • In a TV address to the nation, India’s PM Narendra Modi says the sacrifice of soldiers killed in Ladakh by China’s army “will not go in vain”.

  • India says the “violent face-off” is an attempt by China to “unilaterally change the status quo” on the Galwan Valley frontier in Indian-administered Ladakh.

  • Beijing, in turn, accuses the Indian army of “provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation”.

Here are the latest updates:

20:30 GMT – India-China border tension: A new flashpoint in South Asia

Experts have warned of a new geopolitical flashpoint in South Asia after at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed during a violent confrontation with Chinese troops in the Himalayan region of Ladakh in the deadliest clash in nearly 50 years, 

Read Al Jazeera’s analysis here

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Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers guard a highway leading towards Leh, bordering China [Tauseef Mustafa/AFP]

19:35 GMT – Trump has ‘no formal plans’ to mediate border dispute: Spokeswoman

A spokesperson for US President Donald Trump has said he has “no formal plans” to mediate between India and China. 

“There are no formal plans,” White House spokesman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters but said Trump is “aware” and monitoring the situation.

Last month, Trump tweeted “the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute”.

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An Indian army soldier guards atop one of the vehicles as an army convoy moves on the Srinagar- Ladakh highway northeast of Srinagar [Mukhtar Khan/The Associated Press]

18:45: Global Times editorial accuses India of being encouraged by US 

An editorial published Wednesday in the Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party newspaper, said India was being encouraged by the US in its border standoff with China, which has been steadily building relations with India’s military.

The editorial said that “Washington needs a country like India to spearhead attacks on China”.

“The arrogance and recklessness of the Indian side is the main reason for the consistent tensions along China-India borders,” the editorial said, adding that China “does not and will not create conflicts, but it fears no conflicts either”.

18:00 GMT – Indian officials praise soldiers killed in border clash on Twitter

Indian officials have taken to Twitter to praise the 20 soldiers killed during a border clash with the Chinese troops.

All those who laid down their lives in Galwan valley of Ladakh have upheld the best traditions of the Indian armed forces,” wrote Indian President Ram Nath Kovin. “Their valour will be eternally etched in the memory of the nation. My deepest condolences to their families.”

Former president Pranab Mukherjee wrote that “no service in the cause of Mother India can be greater than the service rendered by the brave hearts who guard our sovereignty and integrity”.

He added: “While this situation has to be successfully diffused and contained, it also has to be ensured that all avenues are explored so as to avoid any repetition in the future.”

Meanwhile, Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal, offered financial compensation and a government job to one member of each of the families of the two soldiers from the state who were killed.

17:30 GMT – India foreign minister says clash will have ‘serious repercussions’

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has called China’s development in the Galwan Valley a “premeditated and planned action that was directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties”.

Jaishankar made the comment, accusing China of erecting a structure in the Galwan Valley, in a statement he released after a phone call with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Wednesday.

He added that the incident would have “serious repercussions” on India’s relationship with China, but that both sides were committed to further disengaging on the remote plateau of the Himalayan terrain.

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Indians light candles in Hyderabad to pay tributes to Indian soldiers killed during confrontation with Chinese soldiers [Mahesh Kumar A/The Associated Press]

16:45 GMT – India was ‘ill-prepared to deal with assertive China’: Analyst

The heightened tensions along the Indian and Chinese border in Ladakh has exposed that India was “ill-prepared to deal with an assertive China”, Dibyesh Anand, a Professor of International Relations at the University of Westminster, told Al Jazeera. 

“India has a government that claims to be strong against its enemy, but the Indian government has been shown and exposed as weak. What they promised was a strong india, but what they got was an Indian military that ill prepared to deal with an assertive China,” he said. 

Anand predicted that both sides would move towards de-escalation because “neither is India capable of taking on China right now, nor will China benefit from pushing India towards the US and other world powers”.

15:45 GMT – Meeting of Major Generals at LOC inconclusive: Indian media

A meeting between Indian and Chinese military officials at the Line of Actual Control (LOC) did not yield any break throughs in the border standoff between the two countries, local Indian media has reported. 

The Indian and Chinese generals had met on Wednesday after meeting on Tuesday, according to the Indian Express. 

The meeting on Tuesday had been credited with bringing down tensions after 20 Indian soldiers died in a border clash the night before. 

Could China-India border dispute trigger a military conflict? I Inside Story

15:00 GMT – Contact between India and China ‘sign of optimism’: Analyst

Wednesday’s phone call between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is a “positive development” in maintaining peace between the two countries, analyst Amman Thakker has told Al Jazeera. 

“It’s a very serious point that we’re at right now, where things could really spiral if they’re not managed, and the fact that both foreign ministries are talking to each other, and there is a commitment at least publicly right now, to talk and to find a peaceful solution, that may be a sign of optimism that we can hold on to,” said Thakker, an India scholar at the University of Oxford.

Thakker added India has “made it clear they’d like to see a return to the status quo as of April”.

“Now that there’s been violence and deaths on the border, this will be very difficult to achieve…but I do think they’ll try to return as soon as they can to the June agreement that was reached, if that’s at all possible,” he said referring an agreement between the two countries reached last week to respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC). 

China, India aim to calm tensions after deadly border clash

14:15 GMT – Indian military put on high alert on border, Indian Ocean: Report

Army and Air Force bases along India’s Ladakh border with China have been put on high alert following a clash between the two country’s militaries that left 20 Indian soldiers dead, the Times of India has reported. 

The Indian Navy was also put on high alert in the Indian Ocean, according to the report. 

Both China and India had increased their presence in the border region before the deadly confrontation.

13:30 GMT – Protesters attempt to gather at Chinese embassy in New Delhi

Anti-China protests have broken out across various cities in India following a clash high in the Himalayas between the world’s two most populated countries that killed 20 Indian soldiers.

In New Delhi, protesters who tried to demonstrate near the Chinese embassy were swiftly detained by police and escorted away in buses, according to the Associated Press news agency. 

Protesters called for a boycott of Chinese-made products and in Lucknow and Mumbai many gathered to smash phones and burn other electronics that were made in China.

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Indians burn an effigy of Chinese President Xi Jinping during a protest against the Chinese government in Lucknow, India [Rajesh Kumar Singh/The Associated Press]

Hello, this is Joseph Stepansky in Doha taking over from my colleague Nadim Asrar.

12:45 GMT – In Pictures: History of India-China border conflict

Both Indian and Chinese officials accuse each other of crossing the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border between the nuclear-armed Asian giants. The LAC is largely based on the ceasefire line after the war in 1962, but both sides disagree on where it lies.

The latest clashes took place at a disputed border site in the Galwan area of Ladakh, in the western Himalayas, an area at an altitude of around 14,000 feet where temperatures often fall below freezing.

Here are the photos.

Indian soldiers carry bodies that were handed over to them by the Chinese troops on the border with Sikkim, India, in this September 14, 1967 photo. [Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images]
Indian soldiers carry bodies that were handed over to them by the Chinese troops on the border with Sikkim, India, in this September 14, 1967 photo [Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images] [Getty Images]

12:06 GMT: China demands India punish those behind clashes

China foreign minister has demanded that India punish those behind clashes and warned New Delhi not to underestimate Beijing’s determination.

A Chinese foreign ministry statement asked India to “conduct a thorough investigation” and punish those responsible.

“The Indian side must not misjudge the current situation, and must not underestimate China’s firm will to safeguard its territorial sovereignty,” it said.

11:22 GMT – Russia, China, India ‘postpone video conference’

A June 23 video conference between the foreign ministers of Russia, China and India has been postponed to a later date, Russia’s RIA news agency cited an Indian foreign ministry source as saying amid tensions between China and India.

The source did not provide a new date for the conference that is expected to discuss the response to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Reuters news agency said.

11:06 GMT – EU asks India, China to ‘show restraint’ and talk

Virginie Battu-Henriksson, the European Union spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy, has called the India-China border tension a “worrying development” and urged the two Asian nuclear powers to “show restraint and engage in military de-escalation”.

“This is crucial for building trust and reaching a peaceful solution which is essential to preserving peace and stability in the region,” she said.

10:59 GMT – India, China foreign ministers discuss border clash

The foreign ministers of China and India have held telephone talks over the deadly border clash, agreeing to “cool down” tensions as soon as possible, Beijing said.

Both sides agreed to “deal fairly” with the events in the Galwan Valley and maintain peace in border areas, China’s foreign ministry said.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke out in favour of a diplomatic solution to his country’s conflict with India at the Himalayan border in his phone call with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

Wang said “mutual suspicion and friction are the way of evil and run counter to the fundamental wishes of both countries’ people,” according to a statement released by China’s foreign ministry.

Jaishankar also expressed his country’s desire to “peacefully resolve the border conflict and relieve regional tensions through dialogue,” the statement said.

10:41 GMT – Russia welcomes China-India contacts aimed at de-escalation

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Moscow welcomes the contacts between its close allies India and China after a deadly border confrontation.

Lavrov said at a press conference that “it’s already been announced that military representatives of India and China have been in contact, they are discussing the situation, discussing measures for its de-escalation. We welcome that.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has close ties with both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian premier Narendra Modi, who has talked of a “special chemistry” with the Russian strongman.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists: “Both China and India are very close partners for us, allies.” “We are paying close attention to what is happening on the China-India border.”

10:23 GMT: #WeStandWithIndianArmy trends on India Twitter

Indians have taken to social media to express their anger and grief over China killing 20 soldiers, while four others are reported to be critical.

Hashtag ‘We Stand With Indian Army’ trends on Twitter, with many calling for revenge and others asking for a boycott of Chinese products.

10:07 GMT – ‘China concerned at India building road along LAC’

Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at The Wilson Center, has told Al Jazeera a combination of factors are at play behind the India-China tension.

“I believe China has been concerned at Indian road building along the Line of Actual Control [LAC], particularly one road that was completed last year that essentially allows connectivity from Leh, the capital of Ladakh, all the way to Karakoram Pass,” he said.

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Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers guard a highway leading towards Leh, bordering China [Tauseef Mustafa/AFP]

Kugelman said any conversation on the Chinese motivation must address India’s repeal of Article 370, which granted autonomy to Indian-administered Kashmir. The federal territory of Ladakh, where the latest clashes took place, was carved out of the former Jammu and Kashmir state following the repeal.

“I think it’s clear. Beijing responded strongly and quickly after India made that move last year. I think China looks at Article 370 repeal similarly as Pakistan does. India made a unilateral move that affected a territory that China claims as its own,” Kugelman told Al Jazeera.

“I think the [coronavirus] pandemic played a part too. China knows that it has been put on the defensive by a lot of strong criticism from key capitals around the world about its initial response to the coronavirus. It has found itself in a lot of hot water with lot of key actors, not just the US but others too. I think China wanted to divert attention by pushing back hard against India.”

09:45 GMT – Modi says sacrifice of soldiers ‘won’t go in vain’

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the sacrifice of the 20 soldiers killed by the Chinese army “will not go in vain” and urged that “differences [with China] should not turn into disputes”.

“For us, the unity and sovereignty of the country is the most important… India wants peace but it is capable to give a befitting reply if instigated,” he said.

Modi ended his address on live television by observing a two-minute silence and folding his hands in order to pay his tributes to the dead soldiers.

The Indian leader has also called for a virtual meeting on June 19 with the opposition parties to discuss the tension with China, his office said.

09:17 GMT – India, China armies ‘talking to defuse tension’

Talks are being held between senior Indian and Chinese army officers in the Galwan Valley along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Himalayan region to defuse the situation, India’s news agency, ANI, reported citing sources in the Indian army.

In a report earlier on Wednesday, ANI had also claimed that a Chinese military commander was among more than 40 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers killed in Monday night’s “violent face-off”. The news agency provided no further details.

08:45 GMT – India awaits Modi’s response to Ladakh killings

India waits for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s response to the death of Indian soldiers as the country’s media vented its fury and political rivals goaded Modi over his silence.

Modi, who rode to power on a nationalist platform, met his defence and foreign ministers and military chiefs late on Tuesday, but he has yet to speak publicly on the worst clash between the two countries since the Nathu La conflict in 1967, five years after the Sino-Indian war.

“Why is the PM silent, why is he hiding,” Rahul Gandhi, leader of the opposition Congress party tweeted. “Enough is enough, We need to know what happened. How dare China kill our soldiers, how dare they take our land.

08:33 GMT – China says it does not want any more clashes

China has said it does not want to see any more clashes on the border with India, adding that both countries are trying to resolve the situation via dialogue.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian reiterated that China is not to blame for the clash and said the overall situation at the border is “stable and controllable”.

08:17 GMT – China’s drill in same area of clashes with India

China’s state broadcaster reported on a large military exercise in the same region as a recent deadly border clash with India, The Associate Press reported.

The CCTV report did not mention when exactly the military exercise was conducted, only mentioning “recently” and that 155 vehicles were used in Nyainqentanglha Shan more than 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) from the site of recent deadly clashes between the two nations’ armies.

“The exercise adopted a joint strategy of combating three-dimensional intrusion and seizing control,” said Zhang Jialin, Tibetan Military Region Brigade Commander.

08: 04 GMT – India defence minister tweets condolence

India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said the killings of soldiers in Galwan Valley is “deeply disturbing and painful”.

“Our soldiers displayed exemplary courage and valour in the line of duty and sacrificed their lives in the highest traditions of the Indian Army,” he tweeted.

“The Nation will never forget their bravery and sacrifice. My heart goes out to the families of the fallen soldiers. The nation stand shoulder to shoulder with them in this difficult hour. We are proud of the bravery and courage of India’s breavehearts.”

A satellite image taken over Galwan Valley in Ladakh, India, parts of which are contested with China, June 16, 2020, in this handout obtained from Planet Labs Inc. Picture taken June 16, 2020. Mandato
A satellite image shows Galwan Valley in the disputed Ladakh region [Planet Labs Inc/Reuters]

07:30 GMT – How Indian, Chinese media reported Ladakh clash

While Chinese state media has downplayed a deadly military confrontation with India in the Indian-administered Ladakh region, Indian newspapers called for “steely resolve” over the killing of at least 20 soldiers.

Indian news agency ANI on Tuesday night claimed that 43 Chinese soldiers had died in Monday’s clash, without giving further details. Chinese media did not reveal casualties on its side.

Read more here.

07:15 GMT – Key dates in decades-old India-China conflict

Asian regional superpowers India and China share a long history of mistrust and conflict along their lengthy border, and tensions flared this week in their first deadly clash in more than four decades.

The world’s two most populous nations and nuclear-armed neighbours have never agreed on the length of their LAC frontier, which straddles the strategically important Himalayan region.

Read more here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies