When the senior Chinese language officer on the bottom, Qi Fabao, confronted the Indian troopers excessive within the Himalayas final June, he was instantly overwhelmed in a brawl fought with pipes, golf equipment and stones, based on the Individuals’s Liberation Military of China.
It stated a battalion commander recognized as Chen Hongjun led a cost of reinforcements to rescue him, in what grew to become the deadliest conflict in additional than 4 a long time alongside the tense mountainous border between China and India.
The senior officer suffered a roughly four-inch gash throughout his brow however survived. Chen Hongjun died, together with three different troopers, the Individuals’s Liberation Military’s Every day reported on Friday, within the most detailed official account of the battle to date. Considered one of them was sucked below the churning present of the Galwan River, which rushes out of a valley at an elevation of almost 14,000 ft.
The account within the military’s official newspaper was China’s first express acknowledgment that its troopers had died within the conflict on June 15, the fiercest of a sequence of confrontations alongside contested components of the border during the last eight months.
India misplaced 20 troopers in that brawl and honored them with public rituals of mourning that, till now, China had not prolonged to its personal troops. The clashes have badly soured relations between the 2 international locations, which had been enhancing earlier than final yr.
It’s not clear why the Individuals’s Liberation Military disclosed the 4 deaths now. In doing so, it introduced that it had awarded Qi Fabao, a regimental commander with 20 years of service alongside the mountainous border, the honorary title of Hero of Defending the Border.
The 4 who died obtained the identical award posthumously. (The account didn’t present the ranks of the officers and troopers.)
“We’re the boundary marker of the motherland,” one of many troopers who died, Xiao Siyuan, was stated to have written in a diary earlier than the deadly conflict, “and each inch of our land below our ft is the motherland’s territory.”
The brand new particulars got here after the 2 international locations reached an settlement to withdraw their forces from one other flash level alongside the border the place clashes occurred: Pangong Tso, a scenic glacial lake not removed from Galwan.
Each side have appeared keen to maintain the tensions from turning into open battle — whereas not overtly conceding any territory alongside a border that is still undefined in locations.
“In India, the critics are saying that at this stage there isn’t any lack of territory to India as a result of this disengagement could be very restricted to Pangong Lake’s banks and each armies are withdrawing,” stated D.S. Hooda, a retired lieutenant common who served as the pinnacle of the Indian Military’s Northern Command. “The large query is the way it will unfold in different sectors.”
China’s model of the lethal conflict couldn’t be independently verified. It blamed India for the brawl and the broader tensions, whereas by no means utilizing the nation’s title. The Chinese language merely confronted “overseas forces,” the article learn.
India, in flip, has blamed China for encroaching previous the Line of Precise Management that separates the 2 sides within the disputed areas.
A spokesman for China’s Ministry of Nationwide Protection, Ren Guoqiang, stated that the article was an effort to right what he referred to as exaggerated and slanderous efforts by India and others to distort the info. “Historical past can’t be tampered with,” he stated in a press release on the ministry’s web site. “Heroes can’t be forgotten.”
Till now, China had solely obliquely referred to “losses” throughout the conflict final summer time. The article didn’t current the 4 deaths as an exhaustive depend. Indian officers have claimed that Chinese language losses had been at the least as excessive as India’s 20 fatalities. An American intelligence official stated final summer time that China had intentionally hid its troopers’ deaths, suggesting that between 20 and 30 had perished.
In broad strokes, the descriptions of the conflict within the Galwan Valley corresponded with these from the Indian aspect, offering a window into how China views the standoff and the way it rallies its personal forces with appeals to honor and sacrifice.
In locations, the Chinese language account verged on hagiography, together with cinematic scenes that appeared considerably inconceivable.
“Deal with my mother if I die!” the soldier who drowned, recognized as Wang Zhuoran, was stated to have shouted to a different soldier earlier than he “toppled into the bone-chilling torrent without end.”
Hari Kumar contributed reporting and Claire Fu contributed analysis.