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NEW DELHI: Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a faceoff in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, last week after scores of Chinese soldiers crossed over to the Indian side, three people familiar with the development said on Friday.

The news of the faceoff in Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as South Tibet, comes as India and China are engaged in talks to resolve another standoff in eastern Ladakh, where thousands of soldiers of both sides are in a stand-off.

The Arunachal Pradesh incident took place last week between the border pass of Bum La and Yangtse, close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), one of the people cited above said.

Indian troops “strongly contested" the Chinese soldiers’ incursion into Indian territory, the person said. “The matter was subsequently resolved at the local military commanders’ level," the person said, adding that there was no damage to any Indian defences. The person denied news reports that said the Indian side held Chinese soldiers for a length of time.

“The India-China border has not been formally demarcated. So there is a difference in perception of LAC between the countries. Peace and tranquillity in these areas of differing perceptions have been possible by adhering to existing agreements and protocols between the two countries," a second person said. The person said both sides take up patrolling activities right up to their line of perception, resulting in the two patrols coming face-to-face sometimes.

“Whenever patrols of both sides physically meet, the situation is managed according to established protocols and mechanisms agreed by both sides. Physical engagement can last for a few hours prior to disengaging as per mutual understanding," the second person said.

Aggressive behaviour by the Chinese in this area is not new. Previously, too, Chinese troops transgressed into Indian territory, with one instance recorded in 2016 when more than 200 Chinese troops came into the Indian side of the LAC at Yangtse, a third person said. At that time, the Chinese troops returned after a few hours.

Tawang has traditionally been a source of friction between India and China. In the 1962 war, China captured Tawang though Chinese troops had retreated later. China claims Tawang is part of Tibet, given that it is an important seat of Tibetan Buddhism.

The Arunachal incident comes a month after a similar intrusion in Uttarakhand, where Chinese troops entered the Indian side of the LAC at Barahoti.

Since May last year, India and China have been locked in a bitter border dispute at the LAC in eastern Ladakh. While disengagement of troops took place at two of the several points of intrusion—Pangong Tso lake area and Gogra Post—after many rounds of talks at the military and diplomatic levels, the two sides are yet to make a breakthrough on pulling back thousands of troops along the LAC in eastern Ladakh.

Meanwhile, the next round of India-China military talks is expected to be held in the next few days, the second person cited above said. Indian Army chief Manoj Mukund Naravane last week hinted that the talks would take place soon. This round of negotiations is likely to focus on disengagement from the Hot Springs area of eastern Ladakh.

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