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Galwan clash could have been planned by China: US panel report

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New Delhi: A top United States security panel has said in a report that the Chinese government had planned the Galwan clash in June 2020 with ‘fatalities’ on the Indian side on mind.

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission has told the US Congress in its annual report that just weeks before the June 15 Galwan Valley faceoff, China had signalled its intent to escalate the tensions with India along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de-facto border between the two countries.

 

On the intervening night of June 15 and 16, troops of Indian Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army had engaged in a violent, hand-to-hand clash in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed, including a Commanding Officer. The PLA had suffered an unspecified number of casualties. Indian and American intelligence officials have estimated that toll to be between 35 and40.

The Galwan clash fatalities were the first which both the countries had suffered in a border clash for the past several decades.

The report noted that “if China’s goal was ‘to acquire territory… [the Chinese government] might deem the moves a success’. If Beijing intended to dissuade India from building infrastructure on its side of the LAC or warn it against aligning with the United States, however, ‘then the Chinese moves have been ineffective, if not counterproductive’.”

The report clearly highlighted that there was some evidence to suggest that the Chinese government had planned the Galwan Valley incident, “potentially including the possibility for fatalities”.

“For instance, several weeks prior to the clash (Chinese) Defense Minister Wei made his statement encouraging Beijing to ‘use fighting to promote stability’. Just over two weeks before the incident, in another potential indication of Chinese leaders signaling their intent to escalate tensions, an editorial in China’s state-owned tabloid Global Times warned that India would suffer a ‘devastating blow’ to its trade and economic ties with China if it got ‘involved in the U.S.-China rivalry’.”

The US report highlighted that an analysis of satellite images taken prior to the clash showed a considerable Chinese build-up in the Galwan Valley, a week before the deadly skirmish. As per the US panel, as many as 1,000 PLA soldiers could have collected at the site.

The report did not shy away from noting that under current Chinese President Xi Jinping, India-China border skirmishes have increased.

“China and India have engaged in multiple physical clashes along their border for decades, but since General Secretary Xi assumed power in 2012 the two countries have seen five major altercations along their border. The exact motivations behind the Chinese government’s provocative behavior on the LAC this year remain unclear,” the report said.

The US report also pointed out that China had made a new claim of having sovereignty over the entire Galwan Valley, post the June 15 clash, in which marked a significant change to the territorial status quo.