Experts say incident is connected with changes in the PLA leadership
NEW DELHI—One hundred soldiers and 55 horses of the Chinese regime’s People’s Liberation Army crossed three miles into Indian territory, in the Barahoti region of the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, and destroyed infrastructure including a bridge, according to defense insiders who spoke with Indian media.
The incident on Aug. 30 at the Tun Jun La Pass mountain crossing went unnoticed initially by the Indian military and didn’t lead to a military confrontation, the Mumbai-based The Economic Times reported, citing Indian government officials.
Locals reported the incident to the Indian army, which sent a patrol to verify. By then, the Chinese forces had left, after spending about three hours in Indian territory.
Experts said the timing of the incident is significant given the history Indian–Chinese relations. They also think it may have been driven by the new leader of the PLA’s western command, who specializes in patrolling and reconnaissance missions in mountainous terrain and who may have planned the incursion to please Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
“What adds an element of concern to this complex situation is the timing of it. Since the intrusion was large … it means that the Chinese side wishes to underline the seriousness of its intent,” Rajiv Dogra, a former senior Indian diplomat, told The Epoch Times by email.
“As [the recent incident in Barahoti] happened in late August, it is quite possible that it was equally a message for the Quad, which seems to have become a bee in the Chinese bonnet,” Dogra said. On Sept. 24, the Quad nations—Australia, India, Japan, and the United States—held their first in-person leadership summit.
Frank Lehberger, a sinologist and senior research fellow with the India-based Usanas Foundation, told The Epoch Times that he suspects that the recent incursion is an attempt by the Chinese to check Indian reaction time in the event of a larger PLA “lightning operation.”
“There is a bit of psychological warfare involved, keeping Indian troops guarding the border on edge and annoying politicians and diplomats in New Delhi,” he said.