China-India face-off: ‘More than 20’ Chinese troops injured in border clash with New Delhi

India deploy more troops into Ladakh as China tensions rise

More than 20 PLA troops were injured, as well as four Indian soldiers, during the fighting, which occurred in a mountainous area in the far north east of India, sandwiched in between Nepal and Bhutan. Aditya Raj Kaul, a CNN contributing editor who covers India, tweeted: “Over 20 Chinese PLA soldiers injured during the Naku La clash near Sikkim border. 4 injured on Indian side.

Indian Army patrol had challenged the Chinese patrol which led to the brawl

Aditya Raj Kaul

“Indian Army patrol had challenged the Chinese patrol which led to the brawl.

“India has taken up the matter militarily & diplomatically with Beijing. Official word awaited.”

Minutes earlier he had posted: “Indian soldiers and Chinese PLA soldiers reportedly clashed last week amidst extreme winters at Naku La in Sikkim.

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“The clashes were physical in nature as in the past. Injuries reported on both sides. Situation under control as of now.”

The pitched battle was not the first confrontation between Indian and Chinese soldiers in recent months.

A similar stand-off in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, several hundred miles to the west, in June, resulted in the deaths of at least 23 Indian soldiers, with Indian and Chinese generals meeting in a bid to de-escalate the situation.

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Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of Parliament’s defence committee, subsequently told he was concerned things could escalate alarmingly.

Mr Ellwood, who is also a prominent member of Parliament’s Chinese Research Group, said: “It’s not just the two largest nations on the planet, these are ones with nuclear weapons in their back pockets.

“Therefore we need to watch developments here very carefully.”

Referring to Beijing’s increasingly belligerent foreign policy, he added: “What we are seeing with China is a greater resolve to promote its ambitions in a more aggressive style.

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“There’s been the South China Sea, Hong Kong and Taiwan and now the Indian/Chinese border in eastern Kashmir.”

India, led by President Narendra Modi, and China, led by President Xi Jinping, have not gone head to head since the 1960s, resulting in the Sino-Indian war of 1962, when at least 1,383 Indian soldiers, and 722 PLA ones, were killed during fighting close to the border.

Speaking of the Ladakh clashes, Mr Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East, said: “The last time they really went head to head was in the 1960s.

“My take on it is this is a case of the Chinese testing the will of India to respond.

“If you have watched Jurassic World, when the dinosaurs are testing the fence in different places, they are working out weaknesses.

“What we are seeing here is China testing the mettle of India knowing that China has now got so large militarily, economically and indeed technologically that nobody is willing to take it on.”

With reference to Ladakh, Mr Ellwood cited a 1996 agreement banning guns from the region.

He explained: “To avoid that there is this large area in the Galwan Valley where no firearms are allowed which means that if you are going to have any impact you have to go in there with bats and other things and go hand to hand in the old medieval way.”

Naku La is close to the Doklam area, which was likewise the subject of a military stand-off between India and China four years ago, with several injured during a melee between them in August 2017.

Speaking in April, prior to the Ladakh incidents, Frank O’Donnell, a Nonresident Fellow with the Stimson Center South Asia Program, “There is a continuing risk of a border clash similar to that of 2017.

“While there are channels of diplomacy, both sides in 2017 were unwilling to ‘lose face’ through properly utilising these channels toward early resolution.

“This creates a real risk of escalation should a similar border dispute erupt, although major war would still be unlikely.”

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