Shanghai, China, Feb 19 (efe-epa).- The Chinese government recognized Friday for the first time that at least four of its soldiers died in June last year during clashes with Indian troops in a disputed border area in the western Himalayas.
The Central Military Commission, the body that controls the Chinese armed forces, announced a posthumous title of “hero” for one soldier and first-class merit citations for three more “to commemorate their sacrifice for defending national sovereignty and territory.”
India had reported the death of 20 of its soldiers and that another 76 had been injured, however, until now China had only reported an unspecified number of casualties that was “not high.”
Beijing also awarded one person, who it said led the soldiers during the confrontations and was “seriously wounded,” the honorary title of “hero colonel,” according to the state television station CCTV.
The Chinese version of the conflict is that, in April, Indian troops crossed de facto border between the countries and attempted to build facilities along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and that in June they violated bilateral agreements and crossed it again to ‘deliberately provoke and violently attack’ Chinese troops who had arrived to negotiate.
The clashes in the Galwan Valley area, west of Pangong Lake, were the worst in 45 years between the nuclear powers, which share a historic dispute over various regions of the Himalayas.
Both countries reacted to the confrontation by reinforcing their military presence along the LAC while they tried to solve the crisis through diplomatic channels.
Last week, the Indian government announced that the two armies had begun de-escalation in the region after months of negotiations that facilitated an agreement to end the military deployment in a “phased, coordinated and verified manner.”
On Wednesday, satellite images confirmed the withdrawal of Chinese troops from the border area, although Beijing and New Delhi will continue to negotiate in the near future. EFE-EPA