Indian, Chinese troops clashed twice in 2022 even as peace talks were on

Indian soldiers guard a highway leading to the Ladakh region. Photo: DPA. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

NEW DELHI, Jan 17, 2024, Reuters. Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed at least two times in 2022 along their Himalayan frontier where they have been involved in a bitter standoff since 2020, according to new details that have emerged from the Indian Army’s gallantry award citations, Reuters reported.

The incidents involved hand-to-hand combat and came as New Delhi and Beijing held a series of diplomatic and military talks to resolve their worst military conflict in decades.

No deaths were reported in these incidents. At least 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese troops were killed in clashes in the area two years previously, in mid-2020.

These skirmishes in India’s Ladakh region, the last of which is now known to have happened in November, 2022, show that the tensions along the undemarcated border continued much longer than previously reported.

The Indian and Chinese armies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Details of the new clashes emerged after the Indian Army awarded gallantry medals to some of its soldiers, who it said challenged Chinese troops trying to enter Indian territory in at least two incidents in 2022.

In the first incident in January, 2022, according to a citation, “several soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army attacked” an Indian Army post in the eastern Ladakh region.

During physical jostling, an Indian soldier wounded at least four Chinese troops and snatched their rifles, “forcing them to go back”, it said.

In the second incident in November, 2022, Indian troops pushed back “a group of 40 to 50 soldiers of (PLA)” who were trying to enter Indian territory. A unit of Indian soldiers attacked and injured them, “thus foiling the enemy’s plan to capture the post”, another citation said.

The citations also said army units of the two countries were involved in a two-day standoff in an unspecified area in 2022.

The military and diplomatic discussions between the nuclear-armed neighbours to resolve the standoff that began in mid-2020 have not resulted in a final resolution yet.

The India-China border dispute dates back to the 1950s and the two sides fought a brief but bloody war over it in 1962.

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