Arunachal is ‘South Tibet’, China Remains Defiant

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian – File Pic

Dismisses India’s Claim Of Abducting 5 Men

Beijing: China on Monday adopted a decidedly unfriendly posture to the Indian Army’s question asking if five civilians who went missing from Arunachal Pradesh days ago were in the custody of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

China has never recognised the “so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’, which is China’s south Tibet region”, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a news briefing on Monday in response to a question about the missing Indians.

“We have no details to release yet about question on Indian Army sending a message to PLA about the five missing Indians in the region,” he added, denying knowledge of the abduction.

The Indian Army had told its Chinese counterpart about the five civilians, who were engaged as guides and porters by the Army in the Upper Subansiri district on the Sino-India border, on Saturday.

Those allegedly kidnapped have been identified as Toch Singkam, Prasat Ringling, Dongtu Ebiya, Tanu Baker and Ngaru Diri. They had gone for hunting in a jungle when they were allegedly kidnapped by the PLA.

Two members of the group returned home and informed the families of the other five that they had been whisked away by the Chinese troops from Sera-7, an Army patrol zone located about 12 km further north of Nacho. Nacho is the last administrative circle along the McMahon line and is around 120 km from the district headquarters Daporijo.

Indian government sources said the matter has not been escalated to a diplomatic level yet. “The discussion is only between our border post and theirs. We will have to wait to get more clarity,” an officer said on the condition of anonymity.

Relations between India and China have hit a multi-decade low since clashes in Ladakh in June that killed 20 Indian soldiers. Both sides have since stepped up monitoring of their largely unsettled 3,488 km border.

“We spoke with them on the hotline and told them that it’s suspected that some people have crossed across to your side and we will be grateful if you could hand them over back, as per what we do normally,” Lieutenant Colonel Harsh Wardhan Pande, an Indian Army spokesman, told news agency Reuters.

“There is no earmarked line going through the forest or the mountains, so they keep moving here and there. So they might have gone there. It’s a very normal thing,” he said, adding they were yet to hear back from the Chinese.

Jaishankar To Discuss LAC Crisis With Chinese Counterpart

Meanwhile External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is likely to have a stopover in Iran on Tuesday on his way to a four-day visit to Russia, where he is expected to hold a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, people familiar with the developments said.

Jaishankar is visiting Moscow to attend a meeting of foreign ministers of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) of which both India and China are members.

He is likely to have a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Tehran before he leaves for Moscow, they said.

Jaishankar’s trip to Moscow comes days after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited the Russian capital to attend a meeting of SCO defence ministers.

On Friday, Singh held an over two-hour meeting with Chinese Defence Minister Gen Wei Fenghe on the escalating border row between the two countries in eastern Ladakh.

In the talks, Singh categorically told Wei that India will not “cede an inch of land” and is determined to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the country at “all cost

An official statement said that Singh conveyed to his Chinese counterpart that China must strictly respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and not make attempts to unilaterally change its status quo.

It was the highest level face-to-face contact between the two sides after the border tension erupted in eastern Ladakh in early May.

Both Jaishankar and Wang are expected to hold a bilateral meeting on Thursday, the people familiar with the developments said.

The two foreign ministers held a telephonic conversation on June 17 during which both sides agreed that the overall situation would be handled in a responsible manner.

The talks took place two days after the Galwan Valley clashes in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed. The clashes escalated the tensions manifold.

The Chinese side also suffered casualties but it is yet to give out the details. According to an American intelligence report, the number of casualties on the Chinese side was 35.

Tensions flared up again in eastern Ladakh after China unsuccessfully attempted to occupy Indian territory in the southern bank of Pangong lake a week back when the two sides were engaged in diplomatic and military talks to resolve the prolonged border row.

India occupied a number of strategic heights on the southern bank of Pangong lake and strengthened its presence in Finger 2 and Finger 3 areas in the region to thwart any Chinese actions. China has strongly objected to India’s move. However, India has maintained that the heights are on its side of the LAC.

India has also rushed in additional troops and weapons to the sensitive region following China’s transgression attempts.

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