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Galwan clash claimed more casualties on China side than officially acknowledged: Report

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: At least 38 Chinese soldiers died in the Galwan skirmish of June 2020 were much higher than the official figures, a new report has claimed.

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In June 15, 2020, twenty Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese troops were reported to have died in a clash in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley. Set against freezing temperatures and pitch-black darkness, the nighttime skirmish escalated border tensions between the two neighbouring nations.

“At least 38 PLA troops were washed away and drowned that night…,” The Klaxon, an Australian newspaper reported, citing findings by social media researchers. It also based its findings on conversations on Weibo, a mobile chat app popular in China.

“Claims of substantial Chinese casualties are not new, however evidence provided by a group of social media researchers, which The Klaxon has independently built on, appears to support claims that China’s casualties extended well beyond the four soldiers named by Beijing,” it further said.

Several Indian and international media reports claimed that the Chinese side suffered over 35 casualties; however the PLA only acknowledged the deaths of five of its soldiers. The Chinese media too, while underplaying the clashes, carried one-sided narratives of the events.

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The Klaxon report seems to corroborate what several reports in the Indian media, in the days following the clash had claimed- that many Chinese soldiers drowned while crossing the fast-flowing, sub-zero Galwan river in darkness.

The report built on social media research, and revealed “extreme lengths Beijing has gone to in order to silence discussion about the battle – in particular, discussion about the true number Chinese casualties.”

In February last year, China officially acknowledged that five Chinese military officers and soldiers were killed in the clashes with the Indian Army though it is widely believed that the death toll was higher.

Beijing awarded the four medals on February 19 last year. The very next day, a journalist was fired for questioning the official number on the Galwan casualties. Other reports at the time said the reporter was arrested after making online claims, including to his 2.5 million Weibo followers, that China was lying and vastly understating its Galwan Valley casualties.

The border standoff in eastern Ladakh erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake area and both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.

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20 Indian soldiers were killed in the clash that erupted in the Galwan Valley of eastern Ladakh on June 15, 2020.

As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process in Gogra as well as in the north and south banks of the Pangong lake last year.

Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control in the sensitive sector.

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