How the Crisis Unfolded


5 May 2020: Indian and Chinese troops clash on the Pangong Tso beach, triggering a standoff.

10 May 2020: Another clash takes place at Pangong Tso. Around 72 Indian soldiers are injured. There is also a small fight between the troops at Naku La in Sikkim the same day.

21 May 2020: Chinese soldiers enter the Indian territory in Galwan Valley of Ladakh and demand halting of road construction process that India is undertaking.

24 May 2020: A press report confirms that PLA has intruded into India at three places: Hot Springs, Patrol Point 14, and Patrol Point 15. Both Indian and Chinese troops are deployed in the regions.

30 May 2020: More reports emerge saying that China is ‘consolidating its positions’ in the Galwan Valley. By some accounts, Chinese incursions in the Indian territory in Ladakh are as deep as its claim line of 1959. By implication, what China could not do until now, it did in 2020.

6 June 2020: Indian-Chinese military commanders’ hold talks at Chushul-Moldo Border Meeting Point.

15 June 2020: Indian and Chinese troops clash for nearly six hours at Patrol Point 14 in the Galwan Valley over PLA reneging the border agreement of a few days back. In a throwback to ancient wars, PLA attacks the Indian troops with stones, clubs and spiked batons. An earlier India-China agreement, prevents Indian soldiers from using firearms. A total of 20 Indian soldiers, including the commanding officer Col Santosh Babu are killed. A few Indian soldiers, reportedly two officers as well, are taken captive by the PLA.

16 June 2020: Battle of nerves continue. PLA Colonel Zhang Shuili accuses India of violating bilateral consensus. India responds by saying that China is trying to change the status quo.

17 June 2020: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation, ostensibly to give a strong message to China.

19 June 2020: Prime Minister Modi addresses the opposition parties. In a bid to diffuse the situation, declares that ‘Neither has anyone intruded into our border, nor has any post been taken by anyone.’ This is construed as Prime Minister’s admission that India has accepted China’s aggression and claims to Indian territory in Ladakh.

20 June 2020: India removes the restriction on use of firearms for Indian soldiers along the LAC.

22 June 2020: Second round of military commanders’ meeting takes place, and a disengagement plan is prepared.

30 June 2020: Third round of talks takes place. India asks China to withdraw its troops.

3 July 2020: Prime Minister Modi makes an unannounced trip to Ladakh. Visits troops in Leh and forward base Nimu, southeast of Leh. Addressing the troops, he accuses an unnamed nation of revisionist policies and territorial aggression. Without naming China, he warns it. He also assures the nation that India is capable of standing up to anyone.

5 July 2020: Indian National Security Advisor meets Chinese foreign minister. Both agree to move back their troops 1.8km from Patrol Point 14.

25 July 2020: India reports disengagement of troops in Galwan Valley, Hot Springs and Gogra.

30 July 2020: Chinese ambassador says that troop withdrawal from the LAC cannot take place unilaterally, insisting Indian troops move further back. In short, claiming Indian territory as Chinese.

27 August 2020: Indian foreign secretary says that the country must be prepared for a long haul as resolution of the LAC issue will take time.

29 August 2020: In an overnight surprise operation, Indian Army captures the Kailash range on the south bank of Pangong Tso. This gives it a tactical advantage on the LAC, as now Indian troops had the view of the PLA positions on the other side.

10 September 2020: Foreign ministers of India and China meet in Moscow. Their joint statement makes five points. These are:

‘1. The two Ministers agreed that both sides should take guidance from the series of consensus of the leaders on developing India-China relations, including not allowing differences to become disputes.

  1. The two Foreign Ministers agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions.
  2. The two Ministers agreed that both sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.
  3. The two sides also agreed to continue to have dialogue and communication through the Special Representative mechanism on the India-China boundary question. They also agreed in this context that the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China border affairs (WMCC), should also continue its meetings.
  4. The Ministers agreed that as the situation eases, the two sides should expedite work to conclude new Confidence Building Measures to maintain and enhance peace and tranquillity in the border areas.’

21 September 2020: The sixth military commanders’ meeting takes place. The 14-hour talks conclude with a joint statement asking both sides to stop sending more troops in the region.

6 November 2020: Eighth round of military commanders’ level talks take place.

16 February 2021: Indian Army vacates the Kailash range. PLA troops start moving back from Pangong Tso.

21 February 2021: Tenth commander-level talks take place. Disengagement from Pangong Tso is completed, even though PLA remains in other parts of Ladakh.

12 March 2021: Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) meets. Commitment to continue negotiations to disengage troops in the remaining areas is re-stated.

14 May 2021: Satellite imagery shows minor recalibrations of PLA positions in Hot Springs and Gogra areas in Ladakh, indicating continuous Chinese presence albeit low in strength.


(Compiled by Mili Verma)



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