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At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese forces in the Himalayan border region between the two countries yesterday. According to Indian officials, a number of the soldiers who died were critically wounded, adding that China had also suffered casualties.
Beijing confirmed the incident had happened.
Soldiers reportedly brawled with sticks, bats and bamboo sticks studded with nails during the late-night confrontation in the Ladakh region.
No shots were fired, however.
The two armies later held talks in a bid to defuse the situation.
While India maintained that China had tried to “unilaterally change the status quo” of the border agreement there, Beijing accused Indian troops of “attacking Chinese personnel”.
It is the first deadly clash between the two sides in the border area in the last 45 years.
For years a disagreement has waged between China and India over who owns what land in the already disputed Kashmir region.
This is especially prevalent in the northernmost hills that connect India to China’s Xinjiang province.
Although not wholly responsible, the single most decisive factor in the Sino-Indian War of 1962 was similar to the reason over today’s scuffles: territorial dispute.
In 1949, the People’s Republic of China was established, and quickly made clear its intention of occupying Tibet.
This alarmed India given its claim to Tibet as part of its Ladakh region.
Throughout the Fifties the two nations argued over who owned what.
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India was, however, keen to maintain cordial relations with China, having recently gained independence and wanting to make global friends and partners.
This was evident when, in 1954, China and India concluded the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, under which India acknowledged the legitimacy of Chinese rule in Tibet.
Revisions of maps and borders took place, with India technically ceding land to China.
Good relations and progress appeared to be in full stride.
But things fell out in 1959, when India’s then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, welcomed the 14th – and current – Dalai Lama after a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule.
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On hearing this, the People’s Republic leader, Mao Zedong was furious, and proceeded to blame the uprising on Indians, asking the state-owned Xinhua News Agency to produce reports on Indian expansionists operating in Tibet.
China became convinced that India was conspiring to expand its territory into land it claimed.
This was only furthered when the Soviet Union, the UK and the US came to India’s defence.
As a result, skirmishes began to occur between Chinese and Indian forces throughout 1959.
The global community was pulled into the conflict, with international powers helping to monetarily ease tensions in 1960 when China and India held discussions to settle the boundary dispute.
The talks failed and two years later, in 1962, China and India found themselves engaged in full blown war.
In October of that year, China’s People’s Liberation Army invaded India in Ladakh across the agreed border.
India had been confident a full-blown war would not commence, having made little preparations for such an event.
While India deployed two divisions, the Chinese already had three regiments posted, having already disabled Indian communications lines – cutting contact with their headquarters.
A series of tactical blunders throughout the war, which lasted from October until November, put India on the backfoot.
On November 19, 1962, China reached the area in which it claimed, and on doing so declared a unilateral ceasefire.
In China’s official military history, the war achieved the communist nation’s policy of securing borders in its western sector.
It appears that the most recent skirmishes remain similar – with China, according to the BBC, having attempted to extend a border road through a plateau known as Doklam in India and Donglang in China.
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