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    At Least 20 Indian Soldiers Killed in Border Clashes with China (Update)

    At Least 20 Indian Soldiers Killed in Border Clashes with China (Update)

    “First deadly confrontation between the two Asian giants since 1975.”
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    The ongoing India-China border dispute turned deadly on Tuesday after 20 Indian soldiers, including a senior army officer, were killed by Chinese troops in the Himalayan region, the Indian army confirmed.

    Indian “Army has lost one officer and 19 soldiers in a violent face off, newspaper Indian Express reported on Tuesday.

    “17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty at the standoff location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries,” Indian Army said in a statement. This brings the total number of Indian casualties to 20.

    There were reports of casualties on the Chinese side, but Beijing hasn’t released any details so far.

    “Based on what I know, Chinese side also suffered casualties,” tweeted the editor-in-chief of Chinese newspaper Global Times, a Communist Party mouthpiece. The deaths were the result of hand-to-hand combat.

    It was unclear if shots were fired during the incident, media reports said.

    The tensions between the two nuclear-armed powers escalated last month after Chinese troops crossed into the Indian border in the northern Himalayan region of Ladakh. China occupied around sixty square kilometers of Indian territory during the incursion, Indian officials say. Recent satellite imagery showed massive build-up by China’s People Liberation Army (PLA) along the border.

    Indian newspaper The Hindustan Times reported the details of the deadly clash on Tuesday:

    The Indian army suffered multiple casualties, including that of an officer, in a “violent face off” with China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Monday night in eastern Ladakh, the army said in a statement. It added that there were casualties on both sides.

    These are the first Indian casualties in a clash with the PLA since 1975 when an Indian patrol was ambushed by Chinese troops in Arunachal Pradesh.

    [Hindustan Times] learns that the officer is the commanding officer of the unit involved in the scrap, and that one of the other casualties is that of a JCO.

    The army said the incident took place at a time the de-escalation process was “underway in the Galwan valley”. (…)

    All the deaths are from thrown stones and rods that were used by the soldiers, people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity. The army did not comment on this. However, this won’t be the first time the two armies have engaged in fisticuffs or used stones as missiles to attack each other in the area.

    In the war of 1962, China took large parts of Indian territory in that same region. Despite China’s continued demands for India to surrender more areas, the two countries have not gone to war ever since. This is the first deadly clash between the two countries in 45 years.

    China blamed India for the deadly confrontation. The Indian side was guilty of “provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday.

    The incident took place a day after China’s Communist Party mouthpiece threatened India for supporting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, and building better economic ties with Taiwan, an independent country which Beijing treats as a breakaway province.

    “The Indian government is expected not to let such negative sentiment sabotage China-India relations and intensify the two countries’ disputes.” the Communist Party-run Global Times warned in an editorial on Monday.

    The United States has backed India in the face of recent Chinese aggression. Last month, Ambassador Alice Wells, the senior U.S. diplomat for South and Central Asia, called Communist China’s behavior towards India provocative and disturbing.

    (Update: Indian causality figures revised from three to 20 based on official Indian statement)

    [Cover image via YouTube]


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    Blaise MacLean | June 16, 2020 at 4:30 pm


    I have a comment that may not be completely politically correct, but expresses 2 worries I have.

    As a foundation I believe the west (NATO, ANZAC,Israel etc) should strongly back India. This would not only be to back a democratic country but to try and contain China. My two big worries are these:
    1. It is only in recent years that India leaned towards the west. It used to be a leader of the Non-Aligned countries which was a false front for the USSR’s diplomacy. How reliable an ally are they?
    2. Their armed forces. I have no doubts about the valour of Indian troops. In two world wars they were excellent soldiers in the Empire/Commonwealth armies. But I have doubts about their (a) equipment and (b) leadership.

    Re (a) I know they have high tech stuff but I will never erase the memory of their special forces during the Mumbai massacre going into action carrying Lee-Enfield .303’s.

    Re (b) Every time there is a skirmish/battle between Indian and Chinese troops on the border, the Indians always seem to get hammered. In this specific case, twenty soldiers got killed. That’s a lot. I have doubts about the abilities and skill of their mid-level officers and integrity of their high level officers. It’s a country with great corruption and I get a bad feeling about their leadership.

    And if they are going to confront China, they need good professionals.

    Those are my concerns.



      Vijeta Uniyal in reply to Blaise MacLean. | June 16, 2020 at 5:19 pm

      Let us also factor in the change of guard in New Delhi, from Socialist Congress Party to Modi’s Hindu Nationalists.

      Modi’s consecutive landslide victories have broken Left’s 70 year lock on power. Unlike the Indian Left, Modi sees the US, West and Israel as natural allies.

      India has not lost a single armed conflict with the exception of the 1962 war with China. With all due respect to Arabs, we are not dealing with the Iraqi National Army here.

      Chinese are better trained and equipped. No doubt. But if cornered, Indians will fight for every inch of their soil.

        healthguyfsu in reply to Vijeta Uniyal. | June 16, 2020 at 5:25 pm

        And I hope we back them 100%…if there’s any anti-corruption forces in the UN, then they and the EU will stand up to China, too. China is formidable but couldn’t stand up to that. I won’t hold my breath for commitments to the destruction of tyranny from the modern powers of Europe, though.

          Vijeta Uniyal in reply to healthguyfsu. | June 16, 2020 at 6:19 pm

          Indians will have to fight their own battles, but a strong counter China will help

            Geologist in reply to Vijeta Uniyal. | June 16, 2020 at 7:56 pm

            I think India is used to having fight her own battles with little or only token support from the Western nations. Fortunately, India has a valorous military tradition (even if mostly unknown to Westerners — who often think of Indians as polite [true] and timid [untrue]).

            A good friend of mine is Sri Lankan, and he helped educate me about Indian history.

        Barry in reply to Vijeta Uniyal. | June 16, 2020 at 6:03 pm

        While I am no longer traveling to India often, I still have many friends and business partners there. Every one is happy with Modi.

      Brave Sir Robbin in reply to Blaise MacLean. | June 16, 2020 at 7:32 pm

      The tilt towards the non-aligned movement had more to do with India breaking from the UK for independence and the US strong backing of UK interests. The US also strongly supported Pakistan which split from India a particularly nasty war of secession. India, more from perceived necessity sought help from the USSR for arms and aid and diplomatic support, but I note India always refused to enter the Soviet orbit. US-Indian relations improved markedly as US-Pakistani relations soured. Should US-Pakistani relations continue to erode, or at least not improve, and relations to China also continue to erode, India will continue is drift towards the United States. Indian culture and society has its issues, mostly relating to the caste system, but overall, it is a more natural partner for the United States in very many respects. I hope investment capital flows from China to India.

        Barry in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | June 16, 2020 at 10:11 pm

        “I hope investment capital flows from China to India.”

        I know what you meant 🙂

        DSHornet in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | June 17, 2020 at 9:38 am

        A commenter farther up the message chain suggested a lend-lease program for both sides. This would be a terrible idea, but a lend-lease program for India (IF the Indians want it) would be an excellent one. If it happens we would need to be prepared for the Chinese reaction, but aren’t we already starting to bring back R&D and manufacturing from China anyway?

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