As per recent reports, China on Friday for the first time publically revealed the details of four People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers who were killed in a clash with the Indian troops in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, and a fifth who died during a rescue mission near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two countries in June last year.
After the clash, Indian military officials put a much higher number of Chinese casualties even as the Chinese authorities had not disclosed the numbers. The disengagement and withdrawal are believed to have been caused at least in part by internal factors.
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A prominently published article on page one of the daily gives details of the incident leading to the deaths but does not explain the reason why the information was being shared eight months after the clash. As many as 20 Indian soldiers were killed in action during the clash. The article used a Chinese saying as the headline: “Saving tears for Victory”. It claimed the clash as a major victory for the PLA.
The article was subsequently carried by other state media outlets. It said the five Chinese officers and soldiers stationed in the Karakorum Mountains were recognized by the Central Military Commission (CMC) of China for their sacrifice in the border confrontation with India to commemorate their contributions to defending national sovereignty and territory.
The CMC, headed by President Xi Jinping, awarded Qi Fabao, the regimental commander from the PLA Xinjiang Military Command, the title of “Hero regimental commander for defending the border,” Chen Hongjun with “Hero to defend the border”.
Chen Xiangrong, Xiao Siyuan, and Wang Zhuoran were awarded “the first-class merit”. The first four were killed in the clash and Wang Zhuoran while conducting a rescue mission across a river.
“This is the first time China has unveiled casualties and details of these officers and soldiers’ sacrifice, four of whom died when dealing with the Indian military’s illegal trespassing of the Galwan Valley LAC,” the tabloid Global Times reported. The Chinese state media outlets blamed India for the clash. Indian authorities have consistently denied the allegation and said the PLA trespassed across the LAC.
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“The awards process also revisited the whole incident - how the Indian military deployed a large number of soldiers who premeditatedly hid, trying to force the Chinese military to concede. How the Chinese soldiers defended the sovereignty of the country amid attacks of steel tubes, cudgels and stones were also highlighted,” the article said. It claimed Indian soldiers had outnumbered the Chinese border troops.
Acknowledgment of the death of its soldiers from China comes in the backdrop of the current Indo-China disengagement process which is currently taking place near Pangong Tso in Eastern Ladakh.
According to Indian military officials, China lost nearly 40 of its soldiers, whereas US intelligence claims it to be 35. Besides this, Russian media agency TASS recently reported that PLA had lost 45 soldiers in the clash.