China on Wednesday continued to be silent on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) casualties in the June 15 clash with Indian troops, which left 20 Indian soldiers including an infantry battalion officer dead in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.
The PLA and the Chinese foreign ministry, which have blamed India for the unprecedented flare-up in decades, admitted that the “fierce physical conflict” led to casualties, and have then gone into silence mode about details of the incident or casualty figures.
Zhang Shuili, spokesperson for the PLA’s Western Theatre Command, said on Tuesday the Indian side should “…strictly restrain their frontline troops and return to the correct track of dialogue and negotiations to resolve the differences.”
“The Indian troops had violated their promises and once again crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) for illegal activities, and deliberately provoked and attacked the Chinese forces, thus triggering fierce physical conflicts between the two sides and causing casualties,” said Zhang.
Chinese state media have followed the government in squarely blaming India for the situation without – expectedly – raising any question about the lack of details available.
“The incident happened during a patrol and both sides suffered injuries and casualties, with this being the most severe situation China and India have experienced along the border in more than four decades and may render previous efforts to defuse border disputes fruitless,” Qian Feng, director of the research department of the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University in Beijing, told the nationalistic tabloid Global Times.
China Daily, the flagship English newspaper, ran a story, which was headlined as “China: India actions at border harm bilateral military relations”.
The PLA’s statement on the border situation has been viewed millions of times on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform where many online users have expressed worry about their own soldiers involved in the face-off.
The editor of Global Times Hu Xijin had tweeted on Tuesday without elaborating that the PLA too had sustained casualties.
In a later tweet he attempted an explanation for the silence, which actually is triggering more questions about what exactly happened in the Galwan Valley region on Monday
“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’ numbers so to avoid stoking public mood. This is goodwill from Beijing.”