China admits to casualties in hand-to-hand border clash with India for first time

India-China military commanders to meet on Saturday to further the disengagement process

Mayank Aggarwal
Friday 19 February 2021 15:07
<p>After months of standoff, the military disengagement process has finally started at the India-China border in Ladakh</p>

After months of standoff, the military disengagement process has finally started at the India-China border in Ladakh

China has admitted for the first time that it suffered four casualties in hand-to-hand clashes with Indian troops at the disputed border of Ladakh in June 2020.

On Friday, Chinese media reported that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) lost four men during its clash with Indian forces in the Galwan valley during which 20 Indian soldiers also died.

The four Chinese soldiers, Chen Hongjun, Chen Xiangrong, Xiao Siyuan and Wang Zhuoran, were posthumously awarded honorary titles and first-class merit citations, said the news reports, while stating that a colonel, who led them and was seriously injured, was conferred with an honorary title.

Until now, China had refused to share the numbers of casualties even though unconfirmed reports had estimated them at over 40.

A recent report by a Russian news agency claimed that 45 Chinese soldiers had died during the clash. Since May 2020, the Indian and Chinese armies were facing each other in the Ladakh region with tens of thousands of troops and tanks on both sides.

But recently a disengagement process started after a series of talks. A further round of negotiations between military commanders is scheduled for Saturday.

On Friday, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, during a press briefing, stated that Beijing was exercising great restraint on the border but accused India of repeatedly exaggerating casualties.

She said the PLA Daily published a report on the incident to reveal the truth and emphasised that China is committed to properly resolving disputes through dialogue while hoping to work with India to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border area.

On Thursday, commenting on the disengagement process, she said that based on the consensus reached by China and India, frontline troops on both sides in the Pangong Lake area had started to withdraw from border potential flashpoints.

“To my knowledge, things are progressing smoothly in general. We hope both sides will continue to move towards each other, strictly comply with the consensus reached and agreements signed, and ensure the smooth completion of the disengagement process,” she said.

Additional reporting by agencies

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