‘China’s PLA lost 42 soldiers in Galwan clash’

An investigative report by The Klaxon, an Australia based news outlet, has claimed that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) lost 42 of its men, and not four, as it has been claiming, in the 15 June 2020 Galwan clash with the Indian Army.

While India had immediately acknowledged that 20 of its men had fallen, it was nearly seven months later, in February 2021 that the Chinese acknowledged that they too had lost four of their men in the violent skirmishes in which nail studded rods were used by the PLA to attack the unarmed Indian jawans who, following the rules of engagement that are applicable in that particular border region, were not carrying any weapons.

While the Indian Army has so far not announced the casualty suffered by the Chinese sides, The Daily Guardian and its sister publication, The Sunday Guardian, had reported on the basis of interaction with people present on the ground, that the Chinese casualty was much more than the four deaths that the PLA has been claiming, something that the Klaxon report too confirms.

China had in February 2021 announced posthumous medals to its four soldiers and one survivor. As per Klaxon’s report, a group of social media researchers provided it with evidence, which Klaxon independently worked on. The said evidence, Klaxon wrote, proves that the Chinese casualties extended well beyond the four soldiers named by Beijing and that it lost 42 men in total.

The report, titled “Galwan Decoded”, states that in the early stages of the 15-16 June battle, many Chinese soldiers were killed while attempting to swim in the fast-flowing Galwan river in sub-zero temperatures. The report by Klaxon claims that the trigger point for the clash was the construction of a temporary bridge by the Indian side.

The report is built on the information collected by the researchers from mainland Chinese bloggers, citizens and media reports that have been deleted by Beijing. The report states that the 15 June

battle started over a temporary bridge that was built by Indian soldiers across a stream of the Galwan river in May 2020. The PLA, on the other hand, had been creating infrastructure in the mutually decided buffer zone since April. Later, on 2 June, about 80 PLA soldiers came to dismantle the bridge created by the Indian side which was resisted by Indian troops.

At the time, it was decided that both sides would withdraw all personnel who crossed the buffer zone.

“PLA did not adhere to its promise…and instead of dismantling its own infrastructure as agreed upon, secretly dismantled the river crossing bridge constructed by the Indian Army,” the report said.

Following this, the Indian side led by Colonel Santosh Babu came with his troops to the disputed area on 15 June. The Chinese forces were led by Colonel Qi Fabao, who instead of discussing the issue, ordered his troops to form a battle formation and soon enough a violent hand to hand battle started.

The same Qi Fabao became a torchbearer during Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Torch Relay on Wednesday as he took the flame from Wang Meng, China’s four-time Olympic short track speed skating champion, at Winter Olympic Park on Wednesday. There are about 1,200 torchbearers for the Winter Olympic Games. The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games will start on Friday.

This action of China led India to boycott the opening and closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs called the Chinese action “regrettable” while announcing the decision. “We have seen the reports on this issue. It is indeed regrettable that the Chinese side has chosen to politicise an event like the Olympics,” the MEA said on Thursday. “Our Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of India in Beijing will not be attending the opening or the closing ceremony of the Beijing ’22 Winter Olympics,” a statement from the ministry stated. Only one athlete from India is participating in the winter games and shortly after the MEA’s announcement, national broadcaster Doordarshan said it would not live telecast the opening or closing ceremony of the Olympics.

China’s decision to make Fabao a torchbearer of the Winter Olympics has also been condemned by Jim Risch, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member who has tweeted, “It’s shameful that Beijing chose a torchbearer for the Olympics 2022 who’s part of the military command that attacked India in 2020 and is implementing genocide against the Uyghurs. The US will continue to support Uyghur freedoms and the sovereignty of India.”

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