China, India Accuse Each Other of Firing Shots at Border Ahead of Russia Meeting

China and India have both accused each other of firing shots along the disputed Himalayan border, where forces have been engaged in a tense standoff for several months—punctuated with violent and sometimes deadly encounters.

Both nations said troops from the other side fired warning shows into the air during a face-off on Monday night along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)—the disputed demarcation line between the two giant neighbors formed after a 1962 border war.

The latest confrontation came ahead of a Russian-hosted summit to be attended by the Chinese and Indian foreign ministers, who are hoping to defuse tensions after months of tit-for-tat escalations.

Both sides have been reinforcing along the border, particularly on the so-called "fingers" around Pangong Tso lake, where troops have been maneuvering for advantage and constructing new positions. It was here that soldiers clashed in June, with dozens killed in nighttime hand-to-hand fighting.

The Indian army claimed Tuesday that its forces had thwarted an attempt to advance on an Indian position along the LAC, prompting Chinese troops to fire warning shots. Troops operating in the area traditionally do not carry loaded weapons to avoid accidental escalations.

"When dissuaded by own troops, PLA [People's Liberation Army] troops fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate own troops," the army statement said. "At no stage has the Indian Army transgressed across the LAC or resorted to use of any aggressive means, including firing."

But Chinese military officials said it was the Indians that fired shots. "The Indian troops brazenly made gunshot threat to the patrolling Chinese border guards who came forward for negotiations, and the Chinese border guards were forced to take countermeasures to stabiliZe the situation," according to Zhang Shuili, a representative of the PLA's western theater command.

"We request the Indian side to immediately stop dangerous actions...and strictly investigate and punish personnel who fired shots to ensure that similar incidents do not occur," Zhang said.

Talks between military leaders have so far failed to reach an agreement on the porous border, where the two nations have overlapping territorial claims. Indian officials have accused China of violating the LAC in recent months, and satellite images show that Chinese troops have constructed new positions in areas India claims as its own territory.

The Indian and Chinese defense ministers met in Moscow last week on the sidelines of a larger meeting between Shanghai Cooperation Organisation defense officials. But both subsequently released statements accusing the other of inflaming tensions along the border.

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said Monday his meeting with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi will stress that peace along the border has enabled bilateral ties to develop over past decades.

India, China, military, clash, border, firing, Russia
An Indian army convoy carrying reinforcement and supplies drives towards Leh on a highway bordering China, on September 2, 2020 in Gagangir, India. Yawar Nazir/Getty Images/Getty