China’s official media on Tuesday quoted the Chinese military as claiming that it “always” owned sovereignty over the Galwan Valley region and alleged that “provocative attacks” launched by the Indian troops resulted in “severe clashes and casualties.”
In its first reaction on Monday’s clashes between the two militaries at the Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh, a statement quoting the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Western Theatre Command Spokesperson Colonel Zhang Shuili said, “China always owns sovereignty over the Galwan Valley region.”
The Indian border defence troops are “inconsistent with their words and seriously violated” the agreements both countries have reached, the Global Times quoted him as saying.
“The Indian troops have broken their promises and again crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley region on Monday evening and purposely launched provocative attacks, leading to severe clashes and casualties”, Zhang alleged.
“India should stop all provocative actions, meet the Chinese side halfway and come back to the right path of solving disputes through talks”, Zhang said.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that the violent face-off between the armies in eastern Ladakh was the result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo in the region.
“Given its responsible approach to border management, India is very clear that all its activities are always within the Indian side of the LAC. We expect the same of the Chinese side,” MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
“We remain firmly convinced of the need for the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas and the resolution of differences through dialogue,” Srivastava said, adding that the casualties could have been avoided if the Chinese side scrupulously followed the agreement arrived at earlier at the higher level.
“At the same time, we are also strongly committed to ensuring India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he added.
The Chinese military in its statement alleged that the Indian soldiers crossed the LAC and attacked the PLA troops.
A total of 20 Indian Army personnel were killed during a violent clash with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh”s Galwan Valley on Monday night, an Army statement said on Tuesday.
Initially, the army said one officer and two soldiers were killed in the face-off, in the first such incident involving fatalities after a gap of 45 years and signalling a massive escalation in the five-week border standoff in the sensitive region.
The Army said there were casualties on the Chinese side as well. The extent of casualties on the Chinese side is not immediately clear.
While acknowledging “severe clashes and casualties”, the PLA statement quoted by the Global Times as well as China Daily was silent on the casualties on the Chinese side.
The Indian and Chinese armies are engaged in the standoff in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh. A sizeable number of Chinese Army personnel even transgressed into the Indian side of the de-facto border in several areas including Pangong Tso.
The Indian Army has been fiercely objecting to the transgressions and demanded their immediate withdrawal for the restoration of peace and tranquillity in the area. Both sides held a series of talks in the last few days to resolve the border row.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry in its official transcript of Tuesday’s media briefing did not publish the initial statement made by ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on the violent face-off between the Chinese and Indian troops.
While the Chinese officials were silent on the casualties suffered by the PLA troops, Hu Xijin, editor of the ruling Communist Party-run Global Times tabloid tweeted to say there are casualties on Chinese side too.
“Chinese and Indian military personnel broke out in a severe physical conflict in the Galwan Valley. The Indian side stated that three people died in the Indian Army. According to my urgent knowledge of people familiar with the situation, there are also casualties on our side”, she said.
However, the Global Times later tweeted that the “official Global Times accounts have never reported the exact casualties on the Chinese side. The Global Times cannot confirm the number at the moment.”
Hu later tweeted that the Chinese side didn’t release the number of PLA casualties in the clash with Indian soldiers. “My understanding is the Chinese side doesn’t want people of the two countries to compare the casualties number so to avoid stoking public mood. This is goodwill from Beijing,” Hu added