India / Evidence suggests China planned Galwan Valley clash: US commission

Zoom News : Dec 03, 2020, 08:20 AM
NEW DELHI: There is evidence to suggest that China planned the clash with Indian troops in Galwan Valley in Ladakh in June, which resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese personnel, a US panel has concluded in a new report to the US Congress.

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission report, submitted on 1 December, also characterized the more-than-seven-month-long India-China military standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as the “most severe border crisis in decades". The commission was set up by the US Congress in 2000 and mandated with monitoring and submitting an annual report on the national security implications of trade and economic ties between the US and China.

China and India had engaged in “multiple physical clashes" along the LAC for decades, but since President Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012 the “two countries have seen five major altercations along their border", said the report.

“Some evidence suggested the Chinese government had planned the incident, potentially including the possibility of fatalities," it said about the clash on 15 June, which the report described as “a massive physical brawl in the Galwan Valley".

“Several weeks prior to the clash defence minister Wei (Fenghe) made a statement encouraging Beijing to ‘use fighting to promote stability’. Just over two weeks before the incident, in another potential indication of Chinese leaders signaling their intent to escalate tensions, an editorial in China’s state-owned tabloid Global Times warned that India would suffer a ‘devastating blow’ to its trade and economic ties with China if it got ‘involved in the US-China rivalry’. Satellite images depicted a large Chinese buildup in the Galwan Valley, including potentially 1,000 PLA (People’s Liberation Army) soldiers, the week before the deadly skirmish," the commission said in its report. In the aftermath of the clash, China “asserted sovereignty over the entire Galwan Valley, a new claim and significant change to the territorial status quo", it said.

The clash resulted in the first deaths along the LAC since 1975. Tensions between India and China have been running high since May when India detected Chinese intrusions into Indian territory in Ladakh and Sikkim. India quickly brought in extra troops to match the Chinese deployment with both sides now having tens of thousands of personnel in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation. Despite many rounds of talks, the two countries have been unable to agree on disengagement and de-escalation at several friction points along the border in Ladakh.

“The exact motivation behind the Chinese government’s provocative behaviour on the LAC this year remain unclear. The proximate cause of the clash appeared to be India’s construction of a strategic access road to support troops stationed along the LAC. China has also built extensive infrastructure along the LAC in recent years," the report said.

If China’s goal was “to acquire territory...(the Chinese government) might deem the moves a success", the report said. “If Beijing intended to dissuade India from building infrastructure on its side of the LAC or warn it against aligning with the US, however, ‘the Chinese moves have been ineffective, if not counterproductive’," the report said. The US should take steps to counter China’s efforts to subvert the principles of the UN and its organs and prepare a report on Beijing’s actions to influence votes of UN members, it suggested.