US ‘closely monitoring’ LAC situation after Tawang clashes

Largely unmarked LAC has seen several such clashes

Washington: The US said that it “strongly opposes” any unilateral attempt to advance territorial claims, adding that it is “closely” monitoring the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the aftermath of clashes between militaries of India and China in the Arunachal Pradesh sector.

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US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at the daily briefing that the US is in “close contact” with its Indian “partners”.

Price declined to detail conversations with India.

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“We are glad to hear that both sides appear to have quickly disengaged from the clashes,” Price said and went on to appeal to the two countries to discuss their boundary disputes utilising the existing bilateral channels.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also expressed similar sentiments. “We are glad to hear that both sides appear to have quickly disengaged from the clashes,” she said, adding, “We are closely monitoring the situation. We encourage India and China to utilise existing bilateral channels to discuss disputed boundaries.”

Price was responding to questions about clashes between contingents of the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA – as the Chinese military calls itself) in the Tawang sector last week. The Chinese, numbering about 300, came armed with tasers, knuckle dusters and other weapons – but not guns. The Indian military personnel responded, with swiftly deployed reinforcements, to the transgression and “compelled” the intruders to return to their posts.

The largely unmarked LAC has seen several such clashes, triggered by Chinese intrusion. The most egregious of them took place in Galwan in Ladakh region in 2020. About 20 Indian soldiers were injured at the time and many Chinese soldiers, though Beijing never said how many.

Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Indian American member of the House of Representatives, expressed concern over the clashes. “I’m disturbed to learn of the latest show of aggression by the Chinese Communist Party through its violation of Indian territory with its armed forces,” he said in a statement.

“While I’m grateful that this clash led to no serious casualties to Indian forces, it serves as another reminder of the growing belligerence of the Chinese Communist Party and the need for the United States to continue to work with India and all our security partners in the region to counter Beijing’s aggression,” he added.

These border clashes are more than mere clashes over intrusions. They are seen as “low-level” coercion to unsettle India in view of its growing ties with the US. “China tracks India’s relations with the United States very carefully and is concerned at the synergy between them. Chinese scholarly writings and official statements make the point that the United States is pursuing an anti-China strategy and that India should keep a distance from it,” Vijay Gokhale, former Indian foreign secretary and ambassador to China, writes in a paper published on Tuesday.

“China uses coercion on the LAC to warn India while keeping the possibility of geopolitical backlash low,” he writes, citing a recent study by a Chinese scholar based on interviews with Chinese officials and scholars.

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