India’s military has confirmed it has a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldier in custody today after the soldier crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two countries. The crossing was apparently an accident and India is not suspecting any untoward motives. Incidents like this happen occasionally and there is a system of procedures in place to deal with them. A statement released by the Indian military essentially confirmed that the system is working in this case. “As per established protocols, he will be returned back to Chinese officials at the Chushul–Moldo meeting point after completion of formalities.”
This comes as the standoff between India and China along their shared border approaches its sixth month. Although both nations continue to keep thousands of troops supported by artillery, armor, and combat aircraft in close proximity to the frontier, the region has been relatively quiet in recent weeks. After shots were fired along the LAC in September China and India appear to have both made a sincere effort to deescalate tensions along the border.
Another reason for the area becoming less tense is that winter is fast approaching. Ladakh is a cold desert region in the Himalayas that sees temperatures plummet to -50 degrees Fahrenheit on occasion. China’s window of opportunity is rapidly closing. Soon the weather will make sustained military operations improbable until the spring. This doesn’t mean the lull will continue on over the winter months for certain though. As we have seen in the past six months, it does not take much to heighten tensions between India and China in this area. Given what is going on in the world at the present time, more clashes over the winter cannot be ruled out.