India-China dispute: China returns five missing Indian nationals

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legendIndia and China have a long history of border disputes

Five Indian nationals who were allegedly arrested while crossing the border with China have been released, according to the Indian Ministry of Defense.

The young people, from a state bordering China, disappeared earlier this month.

India said they were hunters who accidentally got lost in Chinese territory. The release has not been confirmed by China.

Tensions have been high since

a deadly clash in a disputed area between Indian and Chinese forces in June.

In a statement on Saturday, an Indian army spokesman said the five youths from the isolated border state of Arunachal Pradesh “inadvertently strayed across the border while hunting.”

He added that this was not uncommon given the sometimes long unmarked border between the two countries.

Although there has been no official word, China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper quoted an anonymous security source as saying the group were “intelligence personnel disguised as hunters.”

The source said the men intentionally crossed the border and were “detained, warned and educated” by the Chinese military.

The Indian military activated a military hotline designed to help defuse border tensions with China earlier this week, following reports that the group had been kidnapped.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian did not give details at the time, but said his country “never recognized the so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’, which is the southern Tibet region in China ”.

What is the context?

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated since June, when at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a skirmish in the disputed border area of ​​Ladakh. China did not comment on reports that it also suffered losses.

There have been outbreaks since, but on Thursday the Indian foreign minister and his Chinese counterpart met in Russia, where they reached an agreement to defuse tensions from their shared border.

The two countries regularly accuse each other of starting the fight in the Himalayan region of Ladakh by crossing the border, a poorly demarcated line that winds through the inhospitable terrain.

Despite several rounds of military and diplomatic talks, the nuclear-weapon neighbors have failed to resolve their border disputes.

There are several reasons why tensions have increased recently – but competing strategic goals are at the root and both sides blame each other.

The two countries fought only one war, in 1962, when India suffered a humiliating defeat.

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