China officially admits 4 PLA soldiers killed, 1 injured during Galwan clash

Updated on Feb 19, 2021 11:38 AM IST

The Chinese state media outlets blamed India for the clash. India has consistently denied the allegation and said the PLA trespassed across the LAC

The rare acknowledgment in a PLA Daily newspaper article comes amid the ongoing disengagement of border troops after several rounds of diplomatic and military talks from near the south and north banks of Ladakh’s Pangong Tso. (AFP)
The rare acknowledgment in a PLA Daily newspaper article comes amid the ongoing disengagement of border troops after several rounds of diplomatic and military talks from near the south and north banks of Ladakh’s Pangong Tso. (AFP)
BySutirtho Patranobis

China on Friday made public for the first time details of four People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers killed in a clash with the Indian troops in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley including one who died during a rescue mission near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two countries in June last year.

A PLA regimental commander survived with head injuries suffered in the clash, an article in China’s official military daily said on Friday.

The rare acknowledgment in a PLA Daily newspaper article comes amid the ongoing disengagement of border troops after several rounds of diplomatic and military talks from near the south and north banks of Ladakh’s Pangong Tso. After the clash, Indian military planners put a much higher number of Chinese casualties even as China had not disclosed the numbers. The disengagement and withdrawal are believed to have been caused at least in part by internal factors.

Also Read | China says disengagement in Ladakh progressing smoothly

HT has reached out to the ministry of external affairs and the army for their responses. This story will be updated once the responses come.

A prominently published article on page one of the daily gives details of the incident leading to the deaths but does not explain the reason why the information was being shared eight months after the clash. As many as 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the clash.

The article used a Chinese saying as the headline: “Saving tears for Victory”. It claimed the clash as a major victory for the PLA.

The article was subsequently carried by other state media outlets. It said the five Chinese officers and soldiers stationed in the Karakorum Mountains were recognised by the Central Military Commission (CMC) of China for their role in the border confrontation with India to commemorate their contributions to defending national sovereignty and territory.

The CMC, headed by President Xi Jinping, awarded Qi Fabao, the regimental commander from the PLA Xinjiang Military Command, the title of “Hero regimental commander for defending the border,” Qi is said to be alive with head injuries.

The remaining four were posthumously awarded for bravery: Chen Hongjun with “Hero to defend the border”. Chen Xiangrong, Xiao Siyuan, and Wang Zhuoran were awarded “the first-class merit”. The first three were killed in the clash and Wang Zhuoran while conducting a rescue mission across a river.

“This is the first time China has unveiled 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 LAC,” the tabloid Global Times reported.

The Chinese state media outlets blamed India for the clash. India has consistently denied the allegation and said the PLA trespassed across the LAC.

“The awards process also revisited the whole incident - how the Indian military deployed a large number of soldiers who premeditatedly hid, trying to force the Chinese military to concede. How the Chinese soldiers defended the sovereignty of the country amid attacks of steel tubes, cudgels and stones was also highlighted,” the article said. It claimed Indian soldiers had outnumbered the Chinese border troops.

“When facing enemies that outnumbered us, none of us flinched. Amid their stone attacks, we drove them away,” Chen Xiangrong, one of the soldiers killed was quoted to have written in his diary.

“Since April 2020, relevant foreign military violated the previous agreement… they trespassed the border line to build roads and bridges and intentionally incited troubles, changing the status quo along the border… they even violently attacked Chinese soldiers that were sent for communication,” the PLA Daily report said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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