Indian and Chinese troops are still locked in a standoff on their contested Himalayan border and Beijing accused New Delhi of "vile" acts, showing that tensions remain high after their worst military clash in 45 years.
About 20 square miles previously controlled by India in the Pangong Tso area – a glacial lake high on the Tibetan plateau – is now being held by Chinese personnel, Indian officials with knowledge of the matter said. The lake sits in the disputed Ladakh area, which also includes the Galwan Valley, where fierce fighting earlier this month killed 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops.
India is monitoring a separate incursion in the Depsang Plains – about 75 miles from the Galwan River – where Chinese troops have pitched tents and other infrastructure, the officials said, asking not to be identified due to rules on speaking to the media.
High-resolution satellite images appear to show Chinese structures on both sides of the shared border in the Galwan Valley that weren't previously there, according to some Indian media reports. While China's foreign ministry didn't immediately respond when contacted for comment on a public holiday Thursday, spokesman Zhao Lijian opened his daily briefing Wednesday with a lengthy statement criticizing India's actions earlier in the month.
"The adventurous acts of the Indian army seriously violated the agreements reached between the two countries on the border issue, and breached the basic norms governing international relations," Zhao told reporters. "The acts of the Indian army are of a vile nature and have severe consequences."
The fresh round of border tensions comes after a commander-level meeting on Monday between the two nations ended with an agreement to de-escalate the situation in Ladakh and to disengage from all areas in the region. For more than six weeks, soldiers have been facing off in at least two locations along the Line of Actual Control – the 3,488 kilometer unmarked boundary between them – and have rushed additional troops to the border.