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China provoked India in latest border clash at LAC in Ladakh: US

China provoked India in latest border clash at LAC in Ladakh: US

The country believes Indian soldiers were better prepared to reciprocate Chinese provocations after strengthening their presence in eastern Ladakh following a violent clash in the Galwan River Valley region in May this year

Army trucks move towards Ladakh via Leh-Manali Highway, in Manali. (Photo:PTI) Army trucks move towards Ladakh via Leh-Manali Highway, in Manali. (Photo:PTI)

The United States (US) believes China purposely provoked India with a new intrusion into disputed territory earlier this week and that Beijing remains infuriated that its commanding officer retreated forces in the sight of a looming physical clash, according to an American intelligence assessment.

The US is of the view that the Indian Army managed to prevent any loss of ground, a source familiar with the assessment told US News.

The country believes Indian soldiers were better prepared to reciprocate Chinese provocations after strengthening their presence in eastern Ladakh following a violent clash in the Galwan River Valley region that led to the killing of 20 Indian troops in the month of May this year.

Also Read: India-China border tension: Both sides position tanks within firing distance at Pangong Tso

The assessment, however, does not infer if the Chinese forces were the first to act provocatively in the violent fierce clash that ensued in May but the US has chosen to support India on account of China's past provocative behaviour.

Meanwhile, American intelligence officials and local analysts remain perplexed by the timing of the latest conflict, which comes in the wake of China seeking to cool tensions, or gives an impression that it wishes to do so, and better ties with India amid apprehensions that the latest clash has dragooned New Delhi into closer cooperation with the US.

Indian officials will indeed meet virtually with their counterparts from the US, Australia, and Japan - a group known as "The Quad"- later this month for a summit that, according to Indian sources, may lead to a new intelligence-sharing agreement among the major powers.

If the arrangement comes through, it will not only equip India with the vital intelligence it needs to have a greater understanding of Chinese Army positions and movements but will also serve as a significant step in formalising a partnership with New Delhi that Washington would like to see grow even stronger at China's expense.

The intelligence assessment states that "we are staggered at the timing of the Chinese actions... but shouldn't complain either if Beijing shoots itself in the foot."

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Meanwhile, the ensuing border tensions between India and China along the LAC (line of actual control) in eastern Ladakh remain jittery with both sides mounting their tanks within each other's firing distance at Pangong Tso lake.

According to sources, Indian and Chinese armies' tanks have been stationed within firing distance of each other amid ongoing military talks between the two sides that will continue on Wednesday, September 2.

Chinese armoured vehicles and battle tanks are positioned near the foothills of 'Kala Top', which is occupied by Indian forces, sources added.

China has stationed light and heavy tanks in the area, which are said to be within engaging distance of Indian positions.

Indian forces at Kala Top are also armed to the teeth with full artillery and tank support. The further movement of Chinese tanks and machinery has been halted because of dominant positions held by India's Special Frontier Force (SFF) at Kala Top as well as army units on other adjoining heights.

Also Read: India-China Border: Chinese Air Force operates J-20 fighters close to LAC in Ladakh