According to the report, three PLA soldiers were killed in the combat while another soldier died while crossing the river when he went to support the others Credit: Representational Image

Beijing: Four Chinese 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.

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, state-run Global Times quoted the PLA Daily report as saying.

According to the report, three PLA soldiers were killed in the combat while another soldier died while crossing the river when he went to support the others. Qi Fabao, the regimental commander of the Chinese military, sustained a serious head injury, the report said.

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 over four decades.

The Chinese soldiers used stones, nail-studded sticks, iron rods and clubs in carrying out brutal attacks on Indian soldiers after they protested the erection of a surveillance post by China on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control in Galwan.

The PLA Daily report claimed that the Indian soldiers attacked the Chinese military personnel with steel tubes and cudgels and threw stones.

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.

The Global Times, a tabloid, part of the ruling Communist Party of China-run People’s Daily group of publications, said the PLA Daily while acknowledging the Galwan Valley casualties stated that the five were killed fighting the “foreign military”.

It is noticeable that the PLA Daily report used “foreign military” to refer to the Indian military, a move that showed China’s kindness of not inciting sentiments of the people against the background of the current disengagement of troops from China and India along the border areas , the Global Times report said.

Commenting on the Chinese casualties, 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 ongoing 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.

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