(TibetanReview.net, Feb19’21) – China has honoured two officers and three soldiers, including four who received the awards posthumously, for defending what it called the country’s western border, which is part of occupied Tibet. China thereby claimed that it had suffered only four deaths and one injury during the mid-June night clash with Indian troops in Ladakh’s Galwan valley.
American intelligence and Russia’s TASS news service had, at different times, put the number of the Chinese dead at more than 40, while the top officer of India’s Northern Command has spoken of having witnessed more than 60 Chinese troops on stretchers after the clash. Lt-General YK Joshi was not sure how many of the 60 were dead.
Meanwhile, marking a significant breakthrough in the over nine-month-long standoff in eastern Ladakh, the first phase of disengagement between Indian and Chinese troops from both the north and the south bank of Pangong Tso has been complete and the next round of the senior military commander-level talks between the two sides are scheduled to be held on Feb 20, said Indian media reports Feb 19.
Citing China’s army publication PLA Daily Feb 19, China’s official globaltimes.cn said Feb 19 that the Central Military Commission 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,” and awarded first-class merit to Chen Xiangrong, Xiao Siyuan and Wang Zhuoran.
The report said Chen Hongjun, Chen Xiangrong and Xiao Siyuan fought to the last minute and sacrificed their lives. Wang Zhuoran, a fellow soldier, also gave his life to rescue his comrades when crossing the river to support the others, it added.
Noting that 20 Indian soldiers had died in the skirmish, the report called it the worst border conflict between the two countries in nearly 45 years.
The report cited Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, as saying China unveiled the details of the incident to refute previous disinformation that stated China suffered greater casualties than India or China incited the incident.
The tenth round of Corps Commander-level meeting between India and China is expected to focus on further disengagement at other friction points from both Northern and Southern banks of Pangong Lake, reported the news agency ANI Feb 19.
India foreign secretary Harsh Shringla has described the relationship with China as complex and noted that the two countries could not have a normal relationship if the border areas continued to witness transgressions. The remark followed comments by Beijing last month that the border problems be delinked from bilateral ties, noted the timesofindia.com Feb 19.