India says 20 dead in border clash with Chinese troopsWorld | 17 Jun 2020 12:33 pm
As some commentators clamored for revenge, India's government was silent today on the fallout from clashes with China's army in a disputed border area in the high Himalayas that the Indian army said claimed 20 soldiers' lives.
Indian security forces said neither side fired any shots in the clash in the Ladakh region late Monday. China accused Indian forces of carrying out "provocative attacks'' on its troops and did not disclose if any of its soldiers died.
It was the first deadly confrontation on the disputed border between India and China since 1975, and while experts said they were unlikely to head into a war, easing tensions quickly would be difficult.
Indian Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Aman Anand did not respond immediately to queries on the situation today or whether talks were planned to defuse the tensions.
"This will likely be a watershed moment in India-China relations and the geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific,'' said Abraham Denmark, Asia program director at The Wilson Center. "We've already seen the deadliest clash on the China-India border in over 50 years, both countries are led by men who have embraced nationalism, and both countries are facing tremendous domestic and international upheaval as a result of coronavirus and other long-standing problems.''
The main questions now are if either side can find a path to deescalation and whether India's allies such as the United States will help. "It is a highly volatile and dangerous situation between two nationalistic, nuclear powers at a time when American influence has badly diminished,'' Denmark said.
China claims about 90,000 square kilometers of territory in India's northeast, while India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometers of its territory in the Aksai Chin Plateau in the Himalayas, a contiguous part of the Ladakh region.
India unilaterally declared Ladakh a federal territory while separating it from disputed Kashmir in August 2019. China was among the handful of countries to strongly condemn the move, raising it at international forums including the U.N. Security Council.
Thousands of soldiers on both sides have faced off over a month along a remote stretch of the 3,380-kilometer Line of Actual Control, the border established following a war between India and China in 1962 that resulted in an uneasy truce.
The Indian Army said 20 of its soldiers died and 17 "were critically injured in the line of duty at the standoff location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain.'' The statement did not disclose the nature of the soldiers' injuries.
The troops fought each other with fists and rocks, Indian security officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information.
After the clash, the two sides "disengaged'' from the area where the the fighting happened, the Indian Army statement said.-AP. Photo: CNN