Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed investment agreements during Xi’s visit to Delhi this week. But while Modi welcomed China’s pledges to help India upgrade a dated railway system and set up industrial parks, Chinese troops increased their presence in an area disputed by the two countries.
The presence of Chinese soldiers in the disputed mountainous area of Ladakh has long been a point of contention. According to a report by the Times of India, tensions in the Chumar area of northeast Ladakh, in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, increased as Chinese Army troops increased their presence in the area during the early hours of Thursday, just as Xi and Modi concluded their talks. Indian troops confronted the Chinese, who refused to leave. Official sources tell the Indian newspaper that Chinese helicopters even air-dropped additional food supplies to the PLA’s estimated 600 troops. The unnamed source said that the two sides maintained a 200 meter (650 foot) distance from each other.
India answered by adding its own reinforcements and blocking the arrival of any additional Chinese troops.
According to the newspaper, China had been constructing a road on its side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a demarcation that divides China and India in that region, earlier this week, but carried on construction into what India believes to be its side of the LAC. The Chinese side claimed they were entitled to build the road up to Tible, a village that India says is five kilometers, or just over 3 miles, into Indian territory.
In the past, Chinese soldiers have entered Chumar, in southern Kashmir, to the dismay of Indian authorities. Chumar is the last village in the Ladakh area that India claims, and has seen many instances of Chinese occupation in recent history. Most recently, Chinese troops entered Chumar with Army surveillance equipment in mid-June before being confronted by Indian soldiers.