Indian Army on 21 October handed over the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldier detained after he had crossed the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) in Ladakh on 18 October, the Chinese military said.
He was handed over to Chinese border troops early on 21 October, PLA said in a brief statement.
“According to the relevant agreement between China and India, a Chinese soldier who was requested by the herders to help find a lost yak was handed over to the Chinese border troops by the Indian side in the early morning of 21 October,” said the statement released by the PLA Daily on social media.
The PLA had confirmed late on 19 October one of its soldiers had gone “missing” along the LAC on 18 October night and had requested the Indian army to return him according to protocol.
The Indian army on 19 October said it had apprehended a Chinese soldier, identified as a colonel, in eastern Ladakh’s Demchok sector after he had strayed across the LoAC.
It had received a request from the PLA enquiring about the whereabouts of the soldier.
The incident comes amid the ongoing border tension with China in eastern Ladakh, where both sides have carried out heavy deployment of soldiers and military equipment.
Issuing a statement on the missing PLA soldier on 19 October night, spokesperson of the Western Theatre Command, Col Zhang Shuili said the soldier went missing while looking for lost yaks on the evening of 18 October — he did not identify the soldier.
“After the incident, Chinese border guards took the initiative to report the situation to the Indian side as soon as possible and hoped that the Indian side would assist in search and rescue,” Zhang said in the statement.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a press briefing on 20 October that China hopes India hands over the soldier as soon as possible and works with China to promote the implementation of the consensus reached at the 7th round of talks.
“India’s move (of returning the soldier) is a goodwill gesture ahead of the eighth round talks,” Sun Shihai, an expert at the South Asia Research Center of Sichuan University, told the Global Times.
In September, Chinese state media had branded as spies five Indians who had strayed across the border in Arunachal Pradesh and were detained by the PLA.
The five civilian porters from the Tagin tribe of Arunachal Pradesh went missing early September.
Ahead of their release in the second week of September, state-run nationalistic tabloid, Global Times claimed in a report that five were “spies” working for the Indian army.
The five had disguised themselves as “hunters”, the report said, quoting an anonymous source, adding that they were “India’s intelligence staff”.
“They recently trespassed the China-India border and entered the Shannan prefecture of Tibet,” the report said.