News and Commentary

Death Toll From Border Battle Between China, India Significantly Higher Than Initially Reported
Members of the non-governmental organisation MADADGAAR PARIVAR, burn a poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping along with Chinese items as they protest against the killing of the three Indian soldiers by Chinese troops, in Ahmedabad on June 16, 2020. - Three Indian soldiers were killed in a violent face-off on the Chinese border, the Indian army said June 16, following weeks of rising tensions and the deployment of thousands of extra troops from both sides.
SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty Images

Initial reports on the number of soldiers who were killed in a border battle this week between India and communist China suggested that several soldiers were killed. However, as more information becomes available it appears as though dozens of soldiers may have been killed on both sides.

The New York Times was one of the first media outlets to report on the skirmish and said that three Indian soldiers were killed. Reuters reported that, according to an Indian Army official, there were casualties on both sides.

U.S. News & World Report later reported that Indian government officials had told a local publication that 20 Indian soldiers had died in the fighting and that somewhere between 35 and 43 Chinese soldiers were also killed

U.S. News & World Report reported:

American intelligence believes 35 Chinese troops died, including one senior officer, a source familiar with that assessment tells U.S. News. The incident took place during a meeting in the mountainous region between the two sides – both of which had agreed to disarm – to determine how the two militaries would safely withdraw their presences from the region.

According to the U.S. assessment, the Chinese government considers the casualties among their troops as a humiliation for its armed forces and has not confirmed the numbers for fear of emboldening other adversaries, the source says.

The sources who spoke with the Times said 43 Chinese troops died in the fighting.

The fighting was the deadliest clash that the two nuclear powers, which are the world’s most populated nations, have had in decades.

“For the past several weeks, after a series of brawls along their disputed border, China and India have been building up their forces in the remote Galwan Valley, high up in the Himalayas,” The Times said in a separate report. “As they dug into opposing positions, adding tinder to a long-smoldering conflict, China took an especially muscular posture, sending in artillery, armored personnel carriers, dump trucks and excavators. On Monday night, a huge fight broke out between Chinese and Indian troops in roughly the same barren area where these two nations, the world’s most populous, had fought a war in 1962.”

Jeff Smith, South Asia expert at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, said, “This is going to strengthen India’s resolve to treat the U.S. as a partner and strengthen cooperation with the other Quad partners to better insulate itself against Chinese aggression. I would expect some form of condemnation of Chinese aggression from the administration.”

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