Cpl. Wang Ya Long, a member of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) troops, was arrested on Monday morning, Oct. 19, by the Indian army in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, where the two nations are in a territorial dispute.
According to the South China Morning Post, the Chinese soldier was reported lost but was later found and arrested by the Indian army near one of the last Indian villages in the area.
The Indian army reported, “The PLA soldier has received medical assistance including oxygen, food, and warm clothing to protect him from the vagaries of extreme altitude and harsh weather conditions.”
Indian media reports immediately went viral with rumors speculating that Wang, the detained Chinese soldier, was carrying “military and civilian documents” and that military authorities are investigating the possibility that the detainee has been conducting “espionage” duties.
Diplomatic sources of the Indian government quickly played down the issue and stated that there was no intention to generate a major conflict over the situation.
The territorial dispute affects a total of 2167.34 miles (3,488 kilometers). It began in May of this year after the authorities of the CCP refused the construction of a road near the border by the Indian government.
Since then the tension throughout the area remained subdued with some critical moments such as the hand-to-hand combat with clubs, stones, and fists that took place on June 15 leaving at least 20 Indian soldiers dead.
Since then, there have been at least 18 rounds of talks between the two sides, although it has been difficult to achieve a breakthrough, there is no explicit interest in an armed confrontation by either side.
However, Indian satellite images showed a large concentration of Chinese regime troops, weapons stockpiles, and the creation of possible tunnels to stockpile equipment in the Tibet Autonomous Region, as reported by the Express in late August. Fears of armed conflict between India and the CCP alarmed the international community.
After the images were released, sources from India’s Department of Security and Defense told Indian media The Print that the additional build-up of troops and weaponry in the area by the CCP, especially with large numbers of troops in the Aksai Chin area, is what made the Indian military cautious about the withdrawal process that was originally planned.
According to Indian media reports, satellite images of Shiquanhe in the Tibet Autonomous Region show the build-up of at least 5,000 Chinese soldiers and their equipment, The Print sources added that heliports have also emerged in the area, and new construction is underway. The movements were first detected by India’s EMISAT spy satellites.
After the images were released, the defense ministers of India and the CCP met in Moscow to try to reduce tensions on the border between the two countries. This was the first face-to-face meeting since the conflict began.
After the meeting, Indian Minister Rajnath Singh declared, “The current situation should be handled responsibly and neither side should take any further action that could either complicate the situation or escalate matters in the border areas.”
In the statement he also added that the accumulation of an excessive amount of Chinese troops, their aggressive behavior, and the constant attempts to unilaterally alter the state of affairs by generating troop movements on the border, violate existing bilateral agreements.