External Affairs

After Tibetan Special Unit Member's Death, China Repeats Stand on Lenience to 'Separatists'

"We firmly oppose any country providing convenience in any form for the 'Tibet independence' forces' separatist activities," China said.

New Delhi: After reports emerged that a special military unit comprising Tibetans in exile took part in the Indian Army’s actions at the border, China on Wednesday asserted it was opposed to any country providing “convenience” to Tibetan independence activists.

There has been renewed tension in the border between India and China since August 29, after India said that it had thwarted “provocative action” by Chinese soldiers to change the status quo at the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake. China then accused India of crossing the Line of Actual Control on August 31. India retorted that it was the Chinese who had again tried to cross the LAC on Monday while military level talks were going on to resolve tension over the previous attempted transgression.

The reports of the death of a Tibetan member of a special forces unit near the India-China border had led to media speculation that it was related to the Indian Army’s ‘pre-emptive’ action on Saturday. Indian Army has clarified that the member, Tenzin Nyima, was killed and another commando injured in a land mine blast while patrolling the India-China border in Ladakh on August 29.

Nyima belonged to the Special Frontier Force, a special unit raised in 1962, that primarily recruits from the Tibetan community in exile in India.

During the daily briefing, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was asked about the reports of a “Tibetan armed unit”, that was trained by CIA in 1960s, being part of the Indian armed forces.

Army trucks move along the Manali-Leh highway, amid border tension between India and China, in Kullu district. Photo: PTI

While Hua said that she was not aware of Tibetans in the Indian defence forces, she said, “But I noted some words you mentioned, including “the 1960s”, “CIA” and “Tibetans in exile”. These words prompt us to ponder over the ins and outs of the Tibet-related issues and the role the US has played in this process”.

She further stated that China’s position on the activities of Tibetan exiles was “clear”. “We firmly oppose any country providing convenience in any form for the “Tibet independence” forces’ separatist activities”.

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson again noted that she was “wondering what is the connection between so-called ‘Tibetans in exile’ and the Indian border troops”.

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“I hope you can do some in-depth investigation. It will be great if you can share with us any further information and progress in this regard,” Hua told the Reuters journalist who asked the question.

She was also asked another question about reports that an Indian soldier had lost his life in a border clash. She denied any such casualty. “I don’t know what your source is based on. In my understanding, no Indian troops died along the border. But I seem to see a Guardian report citing Indian media sources saying that an Indian soldier, because of their own vehicle accident, lost his life. I don’t know if you are referring to that.”

However, this question and answer was not included in the final transcript uploaded on the website of the Chinese foreign ministry.

She repeated that India was the instigator in the latest round of stand-off at the border. “The Indian side claims it ‘pre-empted’ some activities. Like the Chinese saying, ‘There are no 300 taels of silver buried here,’ which means one accidentally gives away the hidden truth in an explanation, India’s statements reveal the fact that the Indian troops were the first to have illegally crossed the LAC, made provocations, changed the status quo in the border areas, and violated bilateral agreements and important consensus,” said Hua.

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The third day of brigadier level talks between India and China at Chushul yielded no result. It is expected to resume again on Thursday.

Meanwhile, there were reports in some sections of Indian media on Thursday that the Army had occupied the ‘finger 4’ peak on the northern bank of the lake.

However, the Indian Army later denied any such occupation, claiming that there had been some movements which were part of readjustments to Indian Army as part of the precautionary deployment carried out last Sunday.