Not surprisingly, both sides have accused the other for causing the fight, claiming that troops deliberately crossed the de facto border to provoke an incident. As yet, neither side has provided any evidence supporting its claims. However, it seems that the political and military leadership from both countries are seeking to avoid further clashes as troops have been ordered to stay away from the area where the clashes occurred.
The Hindustan Times in India reported early Wednesday:
Here are the latest developments on the India-China face-off:
- The army has said that both Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged from the Galwan valley area where the clashes took place. Senior military officers had held talks in the area to defuse the situation.
- In a statement, the army had said that it is firmly committed to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation.
- The External Affairs Ministry said the violent face-off was the result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo in the region. Officials later said it could be a reference to an observation post set up by the Chinese troops on the Indian side of the LAC that was removed by Indian soldiers.
- The officer killed in the clash is Colonel Santosh Babu, Commanding Officer of the 16 Bihar regiment.
- These are the first Indian casualties in a border skirmish with the People’s Liberation Army since October 1975 when Chinese troops ambushed an Indian patrol in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tulung La sector and shot four soldiers dead. However, no shots were fired this time.
- Hindustan Times has learnt rival soldiers exchanged blows, threw stones at each other and Chinese troops even attacked Indian soldiers with rods and nail-studded clubs. The brawl went on for over six hours.
- Defence minister Rajnath Singh briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the developments along the Line of Control (LAC) and also held two meetings with chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat and the three service chiefs to assess the ground situation and review options.
- The situation remains tense at Pangong, which has been at the centre of the ongoing border scrap and where troops are still locked in a face-off.
The PLA and the Chinese foreign ministry, which have blamed India for the unprecedented flare-up in decades, admitted that the “fierce physical conflict” led to casualties, and have then gone into silence mode about details of the incident or casualty figures.
Zhang Shuili, spokesperson for the PLA’s Western Theatre Command, said on Tuesday the Indian side should “…strictly restrain their frontline troops and return to the correct track of dialogue and negotiations to resolve the differences.”
“The Indian troops had violated their promises and once again crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) for illegal activities, and deliberately provoked and attacked the Chinese forces, thus triggering fierce physical conflicts between the two sides and causing casualties,” said Zhang.
Chinese state media have followed the government in squarely blaming India for the situation without – expectedly – raising any question about the lack of details available. LINK
The US media has since quoted intelligence officials to say that 35 Chinese troops were killed in the clashes.
An analysis by The Hindustan Times noted that both sides had sent reinforcements to the area following an earlier clash in May, going on to quote ‘people’ claiming that this was done by the Chinese as a calculated move to prepare for another clash without providing any corresponding speculation as to the motives behind the Indian reinforcements.
Analysts say there could be a host of reasons behind China’s massive troop build-up along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that flared up into the first conflict between the sides in almost 45 years: from Beijing’s desire to tighten its grip on Tibet to anger over New Delhi’s rapid development of infrastructure in border areas.
Tensions between the two sides first flared up in early May following clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in the Sikkim and Ladakh sectors of the LAC.
The deployment of reinforcements by both sides led up to the “violent face-off” in Galwan Valley on Monday night that left at least 20 Indian soldiers, including a colonel, dead.
“The obvious priority for the Chinese side in Galwan Valley appears to be to move the perception of the LAC to their advantage,” said one of several people familiar with developments who spoke to HT on condition of anonymity.
This sentiment in New Delhi appears to have been vindicated as a statement in Mandarin issued by the western command of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Tuesday said: “The sovereignty of the Galwan River Valley has always been ours.”
This is what China does, the people cited above pointed out: forcibly establish a military presence in a disputed region and then stake claim to it.
The people said China was also irked by India’s speedy development of infrastructure, especially in recent years, in strategic sections of the LAC, including in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.
This includes bridges and other structures along the key Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road…
The people attributed the timing of the troop build-up and intrusions into the Indian side of the LAC to the preparations apparently done by the Chinese side over the winter months.
“This was a coldly calculated move and there doesn’t seem to be anything spontaneous about their actions. They prepared through the winter and acted as summer set in,” said a third person. LINK
The road that India is building through the Galwan Valley – close to the de facto border with China – is of considerable strategic significance, as it connects the border zone to an airport in the region.
Reports in the Chinese media remain scarce. Those available blame the Indian soldiers for the incident, however they also emphasize the need to return to direct negotiations to calm the situation down (India had previously rejected an offer by US president Donald Trump to mediate). Chinese news agency CGTN stated:
China’s military voiced strong dissatisfaction and opposition Tuesday to India’s provocative actions on Monday evening in the Galwan Valley region, which caused severe clashes and casualties. It urged India to go back to the right track in properly managing disputes.
“The Galwan Valley region has always been Chinese territory and the Indian border troops have seriously violated the agreements on border issues between the two countries,”said Zhang Shuili, spokesperson of the Western Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), in a released statement.
The provocative actions have harmed the relations of the two militaries and the feelings of the people from both countries, he said.
Citing the meeting between Chinese and Indian military officials on June 6, Zhang urged India to strictly restrain its front-line forces in the border areas and meet the Chinese side halfway… LINK
The previous dialogues, which took place almost two weeks earlier, were also reported by CGTN:
Senior Chinese and Indian military officers, led by top tactical commanders, held their first round of talks Saturday (6 June) aimed at easing the ongoing border tensions peacefully.
The talks led by China’s Southern Xinjiang Military District chief and India’s 14 Corps commander were held in the border area on the Chinese side and ended in “positive trajectory”, The Global Times reported citing Indian media reports.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement Sunday that the talks were held “in a cordial and positive atmosphere” with both sides agreeing to “peacefully resolve” the situation.
“In recent weeks, India and China have maintained communications through established diplomatic and military channels to address the situation in areas along the India-China border,” it said.
At Saturday’s meeting “both sides agreed to peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas in accordance with various bilateral agreements and keeping in view the agreement between the leaders that peace and tranquility in the India-China border regions is essential for the overall development of bilateral relations,” the MEA said.
WATCH: Chinese PLA Rocket Force conducts maneuvering and live-fire missile launch drills (Video: PLA Rocket Force) pic.twitter.com/KzohtLV2K2
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) June 17, 2020
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