Dozens of Troops Killed on India-China Border in Worst Clash in Decades

20 Indians reported killed, as many as 43 Chinese casualties

Major fighting broke out in the Galwan Valley of Kashmir on Tuesday, when Indian and Chinese troops got into a skirmish along the line of control. China’s Foreign Ministry says the Indian troops crossed the border into China twice, and had attacked Chinese forces.

This was the worst fighting in decades in the area, despite ongoing disputes over the border demarcation. As many as 63 may have been killed in the fighting, including 20 Indian troops confirmed killed, and claims of up to 43 Chinese troops killed.

A lot of specifics are still uncertain, as India and China had long made a point that no gunfire had happened in the area in over 40 years, and India claimed today “no shots were fired” by either side, despite the rather high death toll. This was followed by quotes from locals that Chinese troops had fought with rocks and clubs and beat the Indians to death.

Chinese officials emphasized that they’d considered what happened to be a show of “restraint” and are now demanding that India stop all provocations and immediately return to dialogue. Indian officials held emergency meetings and discussed a retaliatory action against China.

India and Pakistan have long had substantial tensions over Kashmir, and China, a close Pakistani ally, is often talked about in the risk of a major war breaking out in the area. Though Pakistan was not reported at all involved in this, Pakistan may play a role in the Indian retaliation.

Tensions over the India-China border have been growing for years, but with both sides nuclear powers, and the border region relatively unimportant, the two sides have let matters simmer rather than risk open warfare. Now, it seems they may no longer have that option with both sides expected to do something.

Another India-China War would be so undesirable for everyone concerned that it seems like cooler heads will prevail. There is always a risk that the two sides will continue to escalate, however, and won’t be willing to negotiate seriously about the matter.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.