Yesterday, violent clashes occurred between Chinese soldiers and Indian soldiers along the border that separates the two countries. In the brief skirmish, 20 Indian soldiers along with 43 Chinese soldiers were killed at the Galwan Valley in Ladakh, according to NDTV.
While tensions have always been hot between these two nations at this part of their border, this is the most serious violence seen between the two countries in over 50 years. There have even been some conflicts and small wars over this specific border in the past, even in the past few years, but no one was ever killed in any of these conflicts.
It is not entirely clear how the fighting began, but it is believed that China is unhappy with India’s construction of roads and air strips near the border.
According to the Indian army, the Chinese troops were the first to open fire, killing an Indian Colonel and two soldiers, which provoked return gunfire. The initial soldiers who were killed were not actually shot with guns, but killed in a brutal physical fight that involved stones and batons. These fights reportedly began in Indian territory.
Indian officials claim that the incident began when China crossed into Indian territory, while Chinese officials insist that the conflict started when Indian troops crossed over into Chinese territory.
The Indian army was the first to announce the conflict, in a statement that read, “Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged at the Galwan area where they had earlier clashed on the night of 15/16 June 2020. 17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty at the stand off location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries, taking the total that were killed in action to 20,” the Army said in a statement.
“Indian Army is firmly committed to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation,” the Army statement added.
Tensions have been building between the two countries for weeks, and many geopolitical researchers were expecting these tensions to boil over at any moment. For the past several weeks, the armies of each country have been massing more and more troops along the border in a show of force. However, the root of this conflict goes back for generations, because the borders between these two countries were drawn out by British aristocrats during colonial times. Unfortunately, neither side can agree on where the borders should actually be.
This is the first fatal clash since 1975 between India and China, who fought a border war in 1962. Prime Minister Narendra Modi held meetings with Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met with military chiefs twice as India discussed how to proceed.
There have been 20 rounds of negotiation in attempts to help mediate this crisis, but thus far all talks have been unsuccessful.
This latest conflict could have implications for the United States and NATO as well, considering that India is a close ally, and diplomacy with China continues to fall apart for many western nations.