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Tuesday Oct 20 2020
Web Desk

'No timeframe fixed': India says Chinese soldier will only be released after formalities

Web Desk
A Chinese officer gestures to an Indian officer in this undated file photo. — AFP/File

BEIJING/NEW DELHI: China urged India on Tuesday to return its missing soldier who was lost a day earlier, with New Delhi saying he will be handed back "after formalities are completed".

The spokesman of the Western Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has issued a statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry's Spokesperson, Zhao Lijian said, while updating the media during his regular briefing.

On October 19, one of our soldiers helping herdsmen find their lost yak went missing, said the spokesman.

He said the relevant department first contacted the Indian side and updated them about the situation and asked for assistance.

"The Indian side promised to provide support and return the soldier after medical checks," said Zhao.

He hoped the Indian side will fulfil their commitment and return the soldier promptly.

Responding to a question about Australia's joining of the Malabar Naval Exercise, Zhao said the Chinese side has taken note of this development, adding: "We always believe that military cooperation between countries should be conducive to regional peace and stability."

On the Indian government's decision to formally start trade talks with Taiwan, he said the Chinese side firmly opposes any official exchanges or signing of documents between countries having diplomatic ties with China and Taiwan.

Zhao said, there is only "One-China" in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China adding that the "One-China" principle is a universal consensus of the international community, including India.

He said the "One China" philosophy is a political basis for China to develop ties with other countries and urged the Indian side to remain committed to this principle and approach.

India-China border conflict

Both sides have engaged in a tense standoff along their 3,500-kilometre (2,200-mile) border since a battle in June left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead, as well as an unspecified number of Chinese casualties

India announced Monday that a corporal named Wang Ya Long had been "apprehended" in the harsh mountainous area of Ladakh.

An Indian government official said Tuesday that Wang "was well", but his release would come only "after completion of formalities".

"No timeframe is fixed as of now," he told AFP, on condition of anonymity.

India and China have poured tens of thousands of troops into the region since the June battle despite several rounds of talks.

Analysts say both sides are digging for a long, hard winter showdown.

Tensions have also spilled into civilian life, with some Indian nationalists demanding a boycott of Chinese goods, and the government banning a slew of social media apps from its major rival.

India is also seeking closer security ties with other countries wary of China's growing military power.

Australia announced Tuesday that it would for the first time take part in naval exercises with India, Japan and the United States in the Indian Ocean.

Meanwhile the Indian army's vice chief of staff, Lieutenant General S.K. Saini, is in the United States for talks and to seek other equipment for use in the China border showdown, government sources said.