Amid the border row between India and China, the Indian Army on Monday apprehended a Chinese soldier in eastern Ladakh after he had strayed across the Line of Actual Control (LAC). A People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldier identified as Corporal Wang Ya Long was apprehended in the Demchok sector of eastern Ladakh.

The PLA soldier has been provided medical assistance including oxygen, food and warm clothes “to protect him from the vagaries of extreme altitude and harsh climatic conditions”, an official release said.

As per the statement, India has received a request from the PLA about the whereabouts of the soldier. “A request has also been received from the PLA about the whereabouts of the missing soldier,” it added.

The Chinese soldier’s identity card has been confiscated and some more documents have also been recovered. According to him, he came in search of his yak. The intelligence agencies are questioning him.

The statement added, “As per established protocols, he will be returned back to Chinese officials at the Chushul-Moldo meeting point after completion of formalities.” 

The Global Times Editor Hu Xijin said, “Based on what I know, one Chinese soldier was detained by the Indian side, very likely because of getting lost. The Indian side has a positive attitude. The soldier will be returned to China. The issue should not cause new tensions in the border area.”

The eighth round of Corps Commander-level talks between India and China is likely to take place this week with a focus on carrying forward their discussions on the disengagement process in eastern Ladakh as the region enters the harsh winter season, government sources said. “The eighth round of military talks are likely to take place this week. The date is yet to be finalised,” said a source.

Both sides had met on for the seventh round of talks on October 12, though there was no breakthrough on the disengagement of troops from the friction points at eastern Ladakh. But both have maintained that the talks were “positive and constructive”.

India has all along maintained that the onus is on China to carry forward the process of disengagement and de-escalation at the friction points.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on October 16 (Friday) stated that the violent clashes on the India-China border in June has left a very deep public and major political impact and the relationship between the two nations has been “profoundly disturbed”.

“From the conceptual level down to the behavioural level, there was an entire sort of framework out there. Now, what we saw this year was a departure from this entire series of agreements. The massing of a large number of Chinese forces on the border was clearly contrary to all of this. And when you had friction point which was a large number of troops at different points very close to each other, then something tragic like what happened on 15th of June happened,” the minister said.

In the last three months, the Indian Army has rushed tanks, heavy weaponry, ammunition, fuel, food and essential winter supplies to various treacherous and high-altitude areas of the region to maintain combat readiness through the harsh winter.

At least three attempts have been made by the Chinese soldiers to “intimidate” Indian troops along the northern and southern bank of Pangong lake area between August 29 and September 8. The situation in eastern Ladakh deteriorated further when shots were fired in the air for the first time at the LAC in 45 years.

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Tensions had escalated manifold between India and China after the Galwan Valley clashes in eastern Ladakh on June 15 in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army also suffered an unspecified number of casualties.

India and China have held multiple rounds of talks between senior military commanders and diplomats and ministers have failed to resolve the crisis. Winters have reached the Himalayas and soldiers now face the prospect of braving temperate 30 degrees below zero Celsius.

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