China Gives New Details of Deadliest India Clash in Decades
File image of a member of China's People’s Liberation Army. (Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg)

China Gives New Details of Deadliest India Clash in Decades

China said four of its troops died last June in a violent border conflict with India, the first detailed account of Chinese casualties from that time.

The PLA Daily named the four soldiers as Chen Hongjun, Chen Xiangrong, Xiao Siyuan and Wang Zhuoran.

“These heroic border guards left their youth, blood, and even life in the Karakoram Plateau and built a towering boundary monument,” the PLA Daily said, referring to an area spanning India, China and Pakistan.

The Central Military Commission of China gave the men awards for their role in defending the country, it added.

India and China moved thousands of soldiers, tanks, artillery to their 3,488 kilometer (2,167 mile) border after clashes in the Galwan valley in the disputed border area of Ladakh last June. India had said it lost 20 soldiers in one of the most violent encounters on the contested frontier in decades. A Chinese military spokesperson said at the time there were casualties on both sides without elaborating.

“The public reporting of heroic deeds by the Chinese media is the responsibility of the media to objectively report the facts,” said Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, a Defense Ministry spokesman, in a statement responding to why China chose to make the details public at this point.

Ren said China exercised a high degree of restraint following the conflict in June to stabilize relations and deescalate the situation, but that the Indian side “repeatedly hyped up events around the casualties, distorted the truth, misled international public opinion, and slandered Chinese border troops.”

Why Chinese and Indian Troops Clash in the Himalayas: QuickTake

China and India have recently begun pulling back their troops from Pangong Lake along their Himalayan border, officials on both sides said, but other areas of conflict between the two neighbors have yet to be addressed.

The Communist Party-backed Global Times said was “noticeable” that the PLA Daily report used “foreign military” to refer to the Indian military, saying that it showed “restraint” on China’s part.

As troops from both sides move back, “the casualty announcement could be part of a larger effort to stir patriotic support and display resolve in the ongoing standoff with India,” said Bates Gill, a professor of Asia-Pacific security studies at Macquarie University in Sydney.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Friday reiterated that India bore responsibility for the border issue, sidestepping a question as to why it had taken eight months for China to reveal its casualty numbers. She said the release of the information was to counter disinformation perpetrated by Indian media and hoped it would help India “draw lessons from it and better work with China to uphold peace and stability.”

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