China has confirmed that the commanding officer (CO) and another PLA officer in the battalion that had a violent exchange with Indian troops on June 15 in Galwan Valley, were killed in the clash, as per a TNN report.
China had informed India soon after it happened, but it’s only been revealed now. TOI’s June 18 edition reported the PLA deaths based on intelligence sources who spoke on the 16 Bihar regiment’s retaliation after the Chinese fatally attacked their CO, Colonel Santosh Babu and others.
The confirmation by China is significant. This is perhaps the first time since the clash with Vietnam in 1979 — a military disaster for China — that the PLA has suffered battle fatalities. The Chinese foreign ministry has refrained from acknowledging the losses suffered by the PLA.
The night of June 15 saw violent clashes between the two sides after Indian troops forcibly removed an illegal construction by the Chinese on the Indian side of the LAC. This led to a series of hand-to-hand combats between the two forces, resulting in deaths on both sides.
India counted 20 dead, including the commanding officer of the battalion. The media reporting on the first day admitted that China had lost an unspecified number of men, but no further details have been forthcoming, with even the usually bellicose ‘Global Times’, a tool that the Communist leadership uses for the information war against its adversaries, avoiding specifics.
India-China relations strained
Foreign minister S Jaishankar spoke to his counterpart Wang Yi on June 17 to protest the violence and called it premeditated. “The Chinese side sought to erect a structure in Galwan Valley on our side of the LAC. While this became a source of dispute, the Chinese side took pre-meditated and planned action that was directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties. It reflected an intent to change the facts on the ground in violation of all our agreements to not change the status quo,” the MEA readout of Jaishankar’s conversation with Wang said.
The need of the hour is for the Chinese side to reassess its actions and take corrective steps,” Jaishankar had told Wang.