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China escalates border dispute, enters Barahoti in Uttarakhand

01 August 2017

Amid a military standoff in Doklam, soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) reportedly entered some 800 meters into the Indian territory in Barahoti in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district on the night of 25 July, in a move to escalate border dispute with India.

Over 10 soldiers were reportedly involved in the transgression that occurred at 9 pm on Tuesday, last week, media reports said.

The Barahoti border has not been demarcated and the two sides differ on perception about it.

Tension erupted after the PLA soldiers forced back an Indian team led by Chamoli district magistrate which had gone there for a survey.

A spokesperson for the Uttarakhand government said they had watched the report on TV but had not received any official information on the issue.

Reports quoting district magistrate Madan Kaushik said security forces are yet to give information on further developments.

The incident comes just three days before National Security Advisor Ajit Doval was to meet Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Uttarakhand shares a 350-km border with China. This was the second time Chinese troops crossed into the Indian side in Barahoti. In July last year, two PLA soldiers had reportedly crossed into the same area.

The latest incursion follows China's military stand-off in the Sikkim-Bhutan border where Indian and Bhutanese troops foiled Chinese attempt to build a road into Doklam in Bhutan's territory.

China instead is now accusing India of trespassing into its territory and stopping its road construction.

The stand-off has since led to a show of force by the PLA in Tibet, followed by a bigger one in China's largest military base in Zhurihe in Inner Mongolia at which president Xi Jinping asserted Chinese military has ability to defeat all invading enemies.

The biggest military parade since 2015, in which army and air force displayed some of the most modern weapons, including a new tank which reportedly held exercises in the high-altitude along the Indian border, was also meant to assert Xi's power in the ruling Communist Party.

China also suspended the Kailash-Mansarovar yatra on Indian pilgrims through the Nathu La pass.

China disputes the existing boundaries with India in almost all border areas and often tries to force its views on India. China even claims a part of Arunachal Pradesh as its territory, which it says is an extension of Tibet which it annexed.

In the Aksai Chin region in the western sector, is the main flashpoint between the two countries. India claims some of the areas are part of Ladakh, while China maintains they are part of its Xinjiang region.

Besides the border row, China also has other prickly issues like India's rejection of its Belt and Road initiative to settle.

In November 2010, China started the practice of issuing stapled visas to people from Jammu and Kashmir. The same year, India cancelled defence exchanges with China after Beijing refused to permit a visa to Lt Gen BS Jaswal.

In 2009, China had objected to the then prime minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh. And in 2007, Beijing had also denied a visa to the then Arunachal Pradesh CM arguing that he would not require travel documents to visit his own country.

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