China revealed Friday that four of its soldiers died in a clash with Indian troops on a disputed border high in the Himalayas in June, a deadly encounter that brought the world’s two most populous nations to the brink of open warfare.
India acknowledged within days of the incident that it had lost 20 soldiers in the incident, but until now China’s Communist Party leadership had refused to give a full accounting of Chinese losses. No shots were fired as the two sides reportedly battled with fists, steel rods and rocks in the Galwan Valley.
Chinese officials on Friday identified four “martyrs” from the People’s Liberation Army killed in the fighting and again insisted that India was to blame for breaching the hazily drawn “Line of Control” dividing the two countries.
It was the bloodiest fighting between the two Asian powers since a brief but bloody border war in 1962.
The PLA Daily, the newspaper for China’s People’s Liberation Army, on Friday also reported that five members of Chinese frontier security forces, including a regimental commander, were being honored for their actions that day. The report noted that Indian officials had previously “boasted” that China’s losses were heavier in the fight.
After months of rising tensions following the event, Indian and Chinese leaders appeared to be seeking to cool tensions recently, moving back troops from a lake that has been a flashpoint in the border dispute earlier this month. An Indian commander told The Associated Press that commander-level talks for further pullbacks are set for this weekend.
But the PLA Daily account published Friday also painted India as the clear aggressor in the June incident, and Chinese government officials said India had purposely overstated the extent of Chinese casualties.
Friday’s account was meant in part to help global audiences “understand the truth and the right and wrong of the incident,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing.