Beijing: Five Chinese military officers and soldiers were killed in the fierce clash with the Indian Army in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in June last year, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officially acknowledged for the first time on Friday.
Five Chinese frontier officers and soldiers stationed in the Karakoram Mountains have been recognised by the Central Military Commission of China (CMC) for their sacrifice in the border confrontation with India, which occurred in the Galwan Valley in June 2020, the PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese military, reported on Friday.
Those killed included Qi Fabao, the regimental commander from the PLA Xinjiang Military Command, state-run Global Times quoted PLA Daily report as saying.
The border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5 last year following a violent clash in the Pangong Lake areas and both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.
Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the fierce hand-to-hand combat on June 15 in Galwan Valley, an incident that marked the most serious military conflicts between the two sides in decades.
The CMC, the overall high command of the PLA headed by President Xi Jinping, has 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.
This is the first time China has acknowledged casualties and details of these officers and soldiers’ sacrifice, four of whom died when dealing with the Indian military’s “illegal trespassing” of the Galwan Valley Line of Actual Control (LAC), the report said.
While India has announced the casualties immediately after the incident, China did not officially acknowledge the casualties until Friday.
The Russian official news agency TASS reported on February 10 that 45 Chinese servicemen were killed in the Galwan Valley clash.
According to an American intelligence report last year, the number of casualties on the Chinese side was 35.
Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times that China unveiled the details of the incident to refute previous “disinformation” that stated China suffered greater casualties than India or China incited the incident.
Both countries had rushed a large number of battle tanks, armoured vehicles and heavy equipment to the treacherous and high-altitude areas of eastern Ladakh region after tension escalated following a deadly clash in the Galwan Valley in June last.
The admission of the casualties by the PLA coincides with the disengagement of troops by both sides at the North and South banks of the Pangong Lake, the most contentious part of the standoff which began in May last year.