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In a first, China's People's Liberation Army acknowledges 2013 incursion at Depsang Valley

Thursday, 31 July 2014 - 5:47pm IST | Place: Beijing | Agency: PTI
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For the first time, the Chinese military on Thursday acknowledged last year's incursion at the Depsang Valley in Ladakh region and said such incidents occurred due to different perception about the Line of Actual Control. 

"Last year there was some incident in the border region. All the issues have been properly solved though negotiations," Colonel Geng Yansheng, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defence said. However, he did not specifically mention the Depsang Valley by name where the People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops pitched tents to assert their control over the area in April 2013.

"The boundary line has not been demarcated and both sides has different interpretation on the Line of Actual Control," he said while answering a question posed by PTI at a press briefing here in which select foreign media was permitted for the first time in the history of Chinese military. PTI is the only Indian media to be invited to attend the once a month briefing so far confined only to the local media. The foreign media has been invited to contribute to better and more objective understanding of China and Chinese military, Geng said.

The incident at Depsang valley, which took place ahead of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to India in May last year, had created military and diplomatic tensions but was resolved after hectic round of negotiations following which the Chinese troops withdrew. 

This is the first time Chinese military referred to the Depsang incident and so far there has been no explanation why Chinese troops resorted to it days ahead of Li's visit, which was his first visit abroad after taking over as Premier. Several such incidents including an intrusion by Chinese herdsmen this month at Ladakh region have taken place but resolved amicably.
Geng affirmed that such incidents have taken place due to different perceptions at the LAC.

"China India border issue is left over from history. The boundary line between the countries has not been demarcated. Both sides have different interpretations of the LAC," he said. "The two governments had reached important consensus on resolving the disputes in the border areas," he said and referred to the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) which was signed last year to address aggressive patrolling of the disputed border by both sides. 

In October 2013, both sides signed BDCA in which they reaffirmed the principle not to carry out respective military capabilities against each other and proposed confidence building measures, Geng said. "For example to set up hotlines line between the two militaries and to conduct periodic meeting between the area command and operational departments and to exercise maximum restraint when a stand off occurs," he said. 

Both sides are currently making efforts to operationalise the BDCA. Both sides conducted in-depth discussions on implementing BDCA on the ground during the visits of Deputy Chief of Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Wang Guanzhong to New Delhi this year followed by that of Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh here recently, he said. The two militaries are in close contact to set up hotlines between their headquarters, Geng said. 

India and China share over 4,000 km of LAC. China claims approximately 90,000 sq km of territory in Arunachal Pradesh besides 38,000 sq km in Jammu and Kashmir sector. 




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