Beijing’s state media on Wednesday played down the deadly Ladakh border confrontation between Chinese and Indian troops and did not reveal casualties on its side even as social media users urged retaliation.
The Indian army said Tuesday that 20 of its soldiers were killed in a “violent face-off” along the Himalayan frontier on Monday, which resulted in “casualties on both sides”. The incident has seen social media users on both sides baying for blood, as tensions between the two nuclear armed states reach fever pitch amid the pandemic.
Ladakh border confrontation: what happened?
Three Indians had been killed in a “violent face-off” in Ladakh clash with China on the border, the Indian army said earlier on Tuesday following weeks of rising tensions and the deployment of thousands of extra troops from both sides.
“A violent face-off took place yesterday (Monday) night with casualties on both sides. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers,” an Indian army spokesman said in a statement. Later, the toll swelled to 20.
“Senior military officials of the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation.”
An Indian army officer based in the region said that there had been no shooting, and that the officer killed had been a colonel.
“There was no firing. No firearms were used. It was violent hand-to-hand scuffles,” the officer said on condition of anonymity.
China had accused Indian soldier of crossing the Line of Actual Control, in a bid to drive the Chinese out of the disputed region, which is controlled by China by claimed by India.
China called on India not to take unilateral actions or stir up trouble, it was reported.
This incident is even more alarming because it comes when both countries are in the midst of diplomatic talks to reach an amiable consensus on Ladakh.
Ladakh border confrontation: Silence of Chinese media is deafening
China’s defence ministry confirmed late Tuesday that there had been casualties, without giving a number, while state media stayed relatively quiet on the skirmish, the most violent in years.
Brawls erupt regularly between soldiers from the world’s two most populous nations across their disputed 3,500-kilometre (2,200-mile) border — but none had proved fatal since 1975.
Chinese side didn’t release number of PLA casualties in clash with Indian soldiers. My understanding is the Chinese side doesn’t want people of the two countries to compare the casualties number so to avoid stoking public mood. This is goodwill from Beijing.
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) June 16, 2020
The Chinese nationalist tabloid Global Times reported the number of deaths on the Indian side, but said China had not released information about casualties. The editor of the Global Times said on Twitter that the death toll was not released because China did not want the people of both nations to start comparisons, at a time when both countries find themselves ravaged by the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, state broadcaster CCTV and the Communist Party-owned People’s Daily republished the Chinese military’s official statement on social media, without any additional reports.
CCTV’s widely watched daily Xinwen Lianbo evening news broadcast made no mention of the border confrontation on Tuesday.
Remarks on incident withdrawn from Chinese Foreign Ministry transcripts
The foreign ministry’s official transcripts of its Tuesday press briefing redacted remarks from its spokesman about the clashes.
The Global Times said in an editorial that China did not disclose the death toll of the confrontation “to avoid comparing and preventing confrontational sentiments from escalating”.
“China does not want to turn border issues with India into a confrontation,” the editorial said, blaming India for “arrogance and recklessness”.
But users on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social platform, were baying for blood.
“If we don’t beat India to death, this kind of provocation will never end,” one user wrote.
“Read from foreign media reports that 5 People’s Liberation Army soldiers died. I’m so angry that my blood is rushing to my head,” another said.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk
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