(TibetanReview.net, Jul14’22) – Amid reports that India had intensified jet fighter operations in Ladakh, with frontline fighter planes carrying out increased sorties including night operations, as the Chinese air force had embarked on an aggressive defence exercise across the border in occupied Tibet, the 16th round of talks between the field commanders from the two sides will be held on Jul 17, reported the swarajyamag.com and the economictimes.com Jul 13. Also, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is visiting Ladakh from Jul 15 for the first time in two years.
With regard to the border situation, forces from the two sides have already disengaged from the north bank of the Pangong Lake, the Galwan Valley and the peaks of the Kailash Range. However, soldiers are still deployed in close proximity in many areas, including Hot Springs, noted the swarajyamag.com report.
The report said that like the last two rounds, the 16th round of talks will see the two sides discuss disengagement in Hot Springs.
Meanwhile, Indian fighter aircraft including Rafales and Su 30MKIs had been operating with enhanced frequency from Leh and Thoise air bases for the past few days, even as the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force had activated its air defence network and was conducting a large-scale exercise involving its combat jets, said the economictimes.com report.
India was reported to be undertaking night flying with enhanced frequency in response to instances of Chinese fighter jets probing areas close to the contested zones in eastern Ladakh.
In one instance, Chinese fighter jets flew close to a contested area at around 4 am in late June, triggering a response from the Indian side. The incident did not escalate into a bigger crisis as the Chinese combat jet did not breach the border, but a formal protest was lodged by India as per the established border talks mechanism, the report said.
On occupied Tibet’s side, the Chinese air defence network, which includes the latest S-400 systems procured from Russia and locally manufactured HQ-9 systems, had been activated, while combat jets deployed at bases facing the Indian border were carrying out increased sorties, the report said. China was also reported to have moved several of its advanced J-20 fighters to an airbase close to the Indian border.
Since the Galwan crisis in 2020, when the Chinese army diverted a large group of ground forces that were conducting a routine exercise to the contested areas in eastern Ladakh, Indian forces had been on high alert for any unusual activity, the report added.
Meanwhile, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, reviled by China as a separatist for no credible reasons at all, will be arriving in Ladakh’s capital Leh on Jul 15 for religious purposes.
“He will be staying at Choglamsar village on the banks of the Indus river and impart teaching to Buddhists and local communities. So far, it has not been decided how long he will stay there. We will know about that after he reaches the village that is at a high altitude. It depends on how he feels there,” the hindustantimes.com Jul 13 quoted Mr Tenzin Taklha, the Dalai Lama’s private secretary, as saying.
Earlier, China reacted with anger when it was reported that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called up the Dalai Lama and greeted him on his 87th birthday on Jul 6.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing that “the Indian side should fully recognise the anti-China separatist nature of the 14th Dalai Lama”.