World War 3: China refuse Indian orders to hand over key border maps

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The nuclear-armed neighbours have both started withdrawing troops from the mountainous region after diplomats agreed a process of disengagement and de-escalation following a two-month stand-off. The dispute erupted into violence last month when Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers killed 20 Indian troops with clubs and rods in a midnight ambush in the freezing Galwan Valley.

China has so far refused to exchange maps in the western sector

Indian security source

The killings sparked outrage across Indian but also led to renewed diplomatic efforts to settle the row.

But now New Delhi has accused Beijing of refusing to engage in a map exchange which Indian officials insist would clarify each other’s claim lines and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the de facto border – which would make future management and patrolling protocols easier.

An Indian security source said: “China has so far refused to exchange maps in the western sector.

“Even after 22 rounds of talks on the boundary question, it has shown no inclination to exchange maps or clarify the LAC, having exchanged maps for only the central sector.”

Officials said they hoped China would agree to hand over the maps once the process of disengagement and de-escalation was complete and Indian troops had returned to their previous patrol positions.

The de-escalation at the border began after “a frank and in-depth exchange of views” between senior diplomats earlier this month.

Both sides came out of the talks saying they had agreed to a significant disengagement of troops.

India said both sides had agreed to respect the existing LAC reflecting positions along the contested section of border although this reference was not included in Beijing’s summary of the meeting.

In response to a question on whether China had moved back equipment in the Galwan valley, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said both sides were “taking effective measures to disengage and ease the situation on the border”.

Mr Zhao said: “We hope India will meet China halfway and take concrete measures to carry out what both sides agreed to, continue to closely communicate through diplomatic and military channels, and work together to cool down the situation at the border.”

The Asian giants have rival claims to vast swathes of territory along their mountainous border, but the disputes have remained largely peaceful since the 1962 war.

Indian military officials said previously Chinese soldiers had entered into India’s side of the LAC at several locations in early May.

China denied it breached the 2,000-mile LAC and said there was stability in the area near the Galwan River and Pangong Tso lake in the remote snow deserts of India’s Ladakh region.

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One possible trigger for frictions is India’s construction of a road near the Galwan Valley to narrow the gap with China’s superior network of roads that it built years ago, Indian and foreign military experts say.

China is opposed to any Indian construction in the area, saying it is disputed territory.

Since then both sides have held talks but there had been no breakthrough.

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