Shots fired on India-China border

Foreign Affairs

Despite tensions flaring occasionally on the Sino-Indian border, no firearms have been used since 1975. That changed this week. Both sides blame each other for firing the first shot.

india china border area
Indian army trucks move along a highway leading to Ladakh, at Gagangeer in Kashmir's Ganderbal district on September 3, 2020. Reuters/Danish Ismail.

There was another clash on the India-China border yesterday, and shots were fired.

A spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army accused (in Chinese) the Indian army of illegally crossing the border and “outrageously firing warning shots” at Chinese soldiers. The Indian army denied that its soldiers crossed the border “or resorted to use of any aggressive means, including firing,” and said Chinese troops “fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate.”

This is a real escalation: It’s the first use of firearms on the border since 1975, and seems to indicate that troops on the India-China border are now carrying loaded weapons. That was not true in June, when the most deadly confrontation between the two militaries since the 1960s was the result of entirely hand-to-hand combat.

  • Hú Xījìn 胡锡进, the mouth-frothing editor of nationalist rag Global Times, tweeted: “Is India going to change the agreement that restrains Chinese and Indian soldiers from using firearms at border? PLA’s weaponry has great upper hand in quantity and quality. If the two sides engage in military showdown, Indian troops will suffer a more disastrous defeat than in 1962.”
  • “Things are going to get tense,” said Lt. Gen. Deependra Singh Hooda, a retired senior of the Indian army.
  • “The structure of relations that the two countries had built over the last three decades — the modus vivendi — has come apart,” said Nirupama Rao.