China Troops 'Practice for War,' U.S. Backs India In Latest Border Standoff

China's armed forces have released footage of troops training for battle near their border with India, amid a charged territorial standoff between the countries in which the United States has sided with its South Asian defense partner.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army Tibet Military Region shared recent footage Tuesday showing personnel "practice for war" as a brigade conducted combat exercises in the highlands that meet India. The area is an ill-defined junction that has been the source of renewed tensions between the nuclear-armed Asian neighbors. Rare skirmishes between the two forces turned deadly earlier this year, and both sides on Monday accused the other of trying to cross the contested boundary known as the Line of Actual Control.

As of Tuesday, it was apparent that no consensus had been reached, despite officials in Beijing and New Delhi emphasizing they sought a peaceful resolution.

China continues to blame the border dispute on incursions by Indian forces into their territory.

"On August 31st, Indian troops violated the consensus reached in previous multi-level engagements and negotiations between China and India, illegally trespassed the Line of Actual Control again at the southern bank of the Pangong Tso Lake and near the Reqin Pass in the western sector of China-India border, and conducted flagrant provocations, which again stirred tension in the border areas," the Chinese embassy in India spokesperson Counselor Ji Rong said in a statement.

"The Indian side's actions seriously violated China's territorial sovereignty, seriously violated the relevant agreements and important consensus of the two countries, and severely damaged the peace and tranquility of the border area," Ji added. "This runs counter to the efforts of both sides to promote the relaxation of the situation on the ground for some time."

Echoing remarks made earlier by PLA Western Theater Command spokesperson Colonel Zhang Shuili, Ji noted that Beijing "firmly opposes" India's actions and "has lodged solemn representations" with New Delhi.

Channeling Zhang, the spokesperson demanded "that India immediately stop all provocative actions, immediately withdraw illegal cross-border personnel, and immediately stop any actions that may escalate and complicate the situation."

china, peoples, liberation, army, tibet, drills
Troops of the People's Liberation Army Tibet Military Command conduct combat exercises in this footage shared September 1. The Chinese military has rolled out video and photos of recurring drills in western regions that meet India at a contested border that has been a source of conflict between the two nuclear-armed Asian neighbors. Chinese People's Liberation Army Tibet Military Command

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying offered a nearly identical response to the media at a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday. Pressed for details of the incident, she stated that "the Indian account may differ from ours, but there is only one simple truth."

Hua said that in the seven decades since the founding of the People's Republic of China, the country "has never proactively provoked any wars and conflicts, and has never invaded an inch of land in other countries."

China and India once went to war over their Galwan Valley feud, a stinging conflict in which both sides claimed victory. Battles broke out both between Ladakh and Aksai China and at another contested border point connecting China's Chumbi Valley, India's Sikkim state and Bhutan's Ha Valley, where clashes between Chinese and Indian troops occurred in 2017.

Both then and now, Beijing and New Delhi maintained they were observing territorial integrity while accusing the other of crossing the line.

In response to reports that India had fortified its frontier posts with additional units, however, Hua said that such actions, if true, "are inconsistent with the desire of the Chinese and Indian peoples to live in peace and maintain good, stable and healthy development of Sino-Indian relations."

"We hope that India will take China's concerns seriously and take concrete actions to ensure the peace and tranquility of the border areas and the sound development of China-India relations," she added.

Indian military spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand confirmed to Newsweek that "no physical clashes" took place Monday during a confrontation with China, but accused the PLA of carrying out "provocative military movements to change the status quo" south of Pangong Lake, and said their advance was thwarted by Indian troops, which have taken "measures to strengthen our positions."

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs elaborated the following day, accusing the Chinese side of repeated infractions at the border amid dialogue.

Spokesperson Shri Anurag Srivastava said in response to media inquiries Tuesday that Beijing and New Delhi were regularly engaging diplomatically in order to resolve their long-running border dispute, but that even as Indian and Chinese ground commanders met over the August 29/30 incident, "Chinese troops again engaged in provocative action."

The spokesperson held the Indian line that the Chinese were the aggressors.

"Due to the timely defensive action, the Indian side was able to prevent these attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo," Srivastava said. "The actions and behavior of the Chinese side since earlier this year along the LAC has been in clear violation of the bilateral agreements and protocols concluded between the two countries to ensure peace and tranquility on the border."

Matching Chinese protests and calls for India to reign in its border troops, Srivastava said New Delhi had brought these issues to Beijing officials "through both diplomatic and military channels and have urged them to discipline and control their frontline troops from undertaking such provocative actions."

Consistent with previous statements, Srivastava emphasized the importance of diplomacy in resolving the dispute.

"We expect the Chinese side to sincerely abide by the understanding reached earlier and earnestly work with India to resolve the situation and to restore peace and tranquility in the border areas," he added.

china, india, border, fight, poster
A man walks past a poster, depicting portraits of Indian soldiers killed in a hand-to-hand fight with their Chinese counterpart on June 15, in a market area in New Delhi on August 31. India and China have accused each other of military provocation on their contested Himalayan border where a deadly showdown erupted in June—even as commanders from the two sides held talks aimed at easing tensions. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

The high-stakes Himalayan quarrel has caught the attention of the United States, which described the PLA's Western Military Command as "likely responsible for responding to conflict with India and terrorist and insurgent threats to and within western China" in an annual assessment of the Chinese military published Tuesday.

The report made several references to the historic border contest between China and India. The document saw China's actions here as part of a broader campaign of "coercive activities" that "fall below the threshold of provoking armed conflict with the United States, its allies and partners, or others in the Indo-Pacific region."

Washington has sought to contain Beijing's rise by bringing New Delhi into the Western fold. Recent security events at the Line of Actual Control roughly coincided with senior U.S. officials speaking at the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum.

Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun directly linked recent India-China tensions to President Donald Trump's bid to isolate the People's Republic.

"Our strategy is to push back against China in virtually every domain," Biegun said. "We're doing it in the security area. We're doing it in terms of outsized demands to claim sovereign territory, whether it's in the Galwan Valley of India on the India-Chinese border, or whether it's in the South Pacific."

Vice President Mike Pence also addressed the forum, saying Trump sought to make good on strong personal ties with Chinese President Xi Jinping, as the U.S. leader had accomplished with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but ultimately the White House would "continue to stand firm with our allies in the region like India."

Such language has been welcomed in New Delhi but rejected in Beijing, where it is seen as a bid to interfere in Chinese affairs.

Despite their tensions, both U.S. and Chinese officials paid tribute on Tuesday to the passing of former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, whom both sides credited with making strides to improve India's relationship with their respective countries.

china, territory, disputes, map
A map shows a selected series of China's territorial disputes in the region as of January 1. U.S. Department of Defense