China vs India concerns erupt as captured PLA soldier risks explosion of border tensions

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Chinese military news outlet China Military Online reported yesterday that the Chinese border guard had gone missing on Friday, according to Reuters. In communication between the two sides, India confirmed it had found the soldier and said it would return them following instructions from senior officers.

China Military Online called on the Indian side to “promptly transfer” the soldier back into Chinese territory.

The soldier is reported to have stepped into Indian territory in a region south of Pangong Tso lake.

A statement from India’s army reads: “The People’s Liberation Army soldier is being dealt with as per laid-down procedures and circumstances under which he had crossed the Line of Actual Control,” according to Al Jazeera.

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China’s state-linked Global Times news outlet claimed the soldier went missing amid “darkness and complicated geography”.

The outlet cited Qian Feng, Director of the Research Department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, as saying: “India may not detain the soldier for a long time since it would be seen as destructive to the previous consensus on solving problems via diplomatic channels.

“Any incident would stimulate the already tense situation along the border.”

Tensions flared along the Line of Actual Control boundary in June last year, when a clash between forces left at least 20 soldiers dead.

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Both sides have since deployed tens of thousands of troops near to the region amid a harsh winter.

However, talks between officials are ongoing in order to de-escalate the tensions and withdraw troops.

On Friday, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said both sides were communicating in order to avoid “misunderstandings and misjudgements,” the Times of India has reported.

Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava told the outlet a Working Mechanism for Consltation and Coordination talk had been held on December 18.

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He added discussions were continuing “for achieving complete disengagement in all friction areas in accordance with the existing bilateral agreements to restore peace and tranquillity”.

It is not the first time a soldier has gone missing in the area, only to be captured by the opposing side.

In October last year, a Chinese soldier was detained by Indian forces after allegedly crossing into India’s territory.

The Global Times reported the soldier had gone missing while helping a local herdsman find a yak, citing PLA Western Theatre Command spokesperson Senior Colonel Zhang Shuili.

Mr Zhang added: “We hope India will fulfil its promise and return the person and work with China to implement the consensus reached at the 7th round of military-diplomatic talks and to safeguard peace and stability of the border areas.

Indian forces said they would return the soldier following a medical exam.

The soldier was returned to the Chinese side on the morning of October 21, the South China Morning Post reported, after a couple of days.

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