China tells India to punish those behind deadly border clashes
China's Foreign Minister has called for India to punish those behind the recent deadly border collisions between its armed forces, and warns New Delhi not to underestimate China's determination to protect what it considers to be its territory.
Wang Yi's comments came in a phone call to his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who came up from the sides along their controversial border high in the Himalayas two days after the battle of the soldiers.
According to reports, 20 Indian troops were killed and China suffered an unknown number of casualties.
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Mr. Wang said China is asking India to conduct a thorough investigation and "severely punish" those responsible.
"The Indian side would be best not to misjudge the situation and best not to underestimate China's strong determination to protect its territory," he said in a statement by the State Department.
Indians burn products made in China (Rajesh Kumar Singh / AP)
Mr. Wang reiterated China's claims that India was solely responsible for the conflict, saying that its armed forces had "illegally" crossed the actual control border three times, separating the thousands of troops deployed in the region.
The statement said Jaishankar explained India's position but failed to provide details, and New Delhi is required to hold talks on reducing tensions.
China had previously sought a peaceful solution to the dispute.
"Both sides agree to resolve the matter through dialogue and consultation, and make efforts to improve the situation and ensure peace and tranquility in the border area," Zhao Lijian, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said at a daily meeting.
Indian security forces said neither side fired gunfire late Monday in the Ladakh region clash, which was the first deadly confrontation on the controversial India-China border since 1975.
Some officials said the soldiers were wearing anti-riot equipment instead of weapons.
China has not said whether any of its troops have been injured or killed.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country is proud that the Indian soldiers died in the fight.
"Their victims would not be in vain. For us, the most important thing is the unity and sovereignty of the country. India wants peace, but if provoked, there can be an appropriate answer in any situation," he said.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted that the loss of soldiers in the Galwan Valley was "deeply worrying and painful".
A group of demonstrators gathered near the Chinese embassy in the Indian capital to condemn the murder of the soldiers and call for a ban on Chinese goods.
Indians burn posters of the Chinese national flag (Rajesh Kumar Singh / AP)
They carried posters with crossed photos of Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Chinese army.
A small group of retired Indian Army members also marched near the embassy with posters that read "Chinese Army Down."
The police arrested them.
Mr. Zhao, the Chinese spokesman, reiterated Chinese claims that the clashes broke out after Indian forces "provoked and attacked Chinese personnel, causing fear, physical confrontation between the two sides' border guards, and casualties."
China claims about 35,000 square miles of territory in northeastern India, while India says China occupies 15,000 square miles of its territory on the Aksai Chin Plateau in the Himalayas, an adjacent part of the Ladakh region.
India unilaterally declared Ladakh federal territory and separated it from the controversial Kashmir in August 2019.
China was one of the few countries to condemn this move and raise it in international fora, including the UN Security Council.
Thousands of soldiers on both sides have faced over a month on a remote stretch of the 2,100-mile line of actual control, the border that was established after a war between India and China in 1962 that led to an uneasy armistice.
Indian trucks drive near Lake Pangong Tso near the border with India and China in the Indian Ladakh region (Manish Swarup / AP).
The tense standoff began in early May when Indian officials said Chinese soldiers had crossed the border at three different points, set up tents and guard posts, and ignored verbal warnings about leaving.
This sparked screaming matches, stone throws, and fist fights, much of which were repeated on television news channels and social media.
The Indian army said three soldiers died in the clash on Monday.
The 17 others died after being "seriously injured on duty and exposed to sub-zero temperatures at high altitude," a statement said Tuesday did not disclose the nature of the soldiers' injuries.
The troops fought each other with fists and stones, Indian security officials said.
After the clash, the two sides "detached" from the area where the fighting took place, the Indian army said.
The United Nations urged both sides to "exercise maximum restraint".
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