Liu Xin and Zhao Yusha
China confirmed a lost Chinese soldier in the border areas was found by India and called for an immediate return of the soldier, according to China’s frontier forces on Saturday.
Due to darkness and complicated geography, a Chinese soldier went missing on the China-India border early Friday morning. China informed India as soon as the incident occurred, and sought help from the Indian side. After two hours of searching, the soldier was found, said the frontier force. The Indian side is waiting for the order to return the soldier, the People’s Liberation Army Daily reported on Saturday.
India should return the soldier immediately, to help de-escalating of the border tension between the two countries, and uphold regional stability, the statement said.
Indian media reported that a Chinese soldier was apprehended by Indian troops near the south bank of Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh on Friday.
China’s front forces also denounced certain Indian media’s hyping of the incident.
China and India are working on the situation of a Chinese soldier who lost his way in the China-India border area, sources close to the matter told the Global Times.
Qian Feng, Director of the Research Department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times that instances of soldiers from both sides getting lost along the LAC is not unusual considering the numbers of Chinese and Indian soldiers stationed along the border.
There were previous occasions when soldiers from both sides lost their way and crossed the border.
In October, a PLA soldier went missing while helping a herdsman find his yak along the China-India border. After China asked India to help in the search, India later notified China that a missing person from China had been found and would be returned to China after a medical exam.
Qian said that previously, there were fewer soldiers stationed in these areas in severe winters. But currently, both India and China have increased their garrisons after several stand-offs.
Qian said that when Indian soldiers strayed across border into the Chinese side, which happened occasionally, China dealt with them discreetly and in low profile.
Given the mature mechanism between China and India, India should return the lost Chinese soldier once they found him. If necessary, they would also offer medical care or other humanitarian assistance to him if he has been injured.
Information released by China showed that the Chinese soldier went lost at early Friday morning, and two hours later he was found by the Indian side. But Indian military said on Saturday afternoon that the incident is under investigation and they are waiting for more details.
Qian believed India is delaying the returning process and probing into the incident. It also shows that amid the tense stand-off, India keeps high vigilance.
“The Indian side may also interrogate Chinese soldiers and examine whether they have carried equipment, maps or other items that may lead to suspicions of prying into Indian military intelligence,” Qian said.
Qian noted that whether the Indian military would return the lost Chinese soldier timely would be the touchstone for whether India is still willing to act in accordance with the agreement reached by the two sides through previous talks.
“India may not detain the soldier for a long time since it would be seen as destructive to the previous consensus on solving problems via diplomatic channels. Any incident would stimulate the already tense situation along the border,” Qian said.
Qian noted that some Indian media even linked the incident to Indians who were on aboard of a freighter with Australian coal and were stranded in a Chinese port.
In response to this groundless hyping, Qian said that these reports do no good for ongoing talks between China and India.
Indian officials reportedly confirmed on Saturday Indian employees on the stranded freighter will return to India on January 14.