Chinese foreign ministry on Tuesday blamed the Indian army for provoking the serious physical conflict along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh. Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry, said Indian troops twice crossed the border line for what he described as "illegal activities", and attacked the Chinese personnel "which led to serious physical conflict between the two sides".
The Indian army has confirmed that three including an army officer had died in the clash that took place in Ladakh's Galwan valley late on Monday evening. The army has also confirmed that there were casualties on both sides in the violent face-off.
The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, however, insisted that he was not aware of any fatalities.
Some time later, the first confirmation of casualties on the Chinese side came from Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Global Times.
"Based on what I know, Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash," Hu Xijin tweeted on Tuesday afternoon. He went on to ask India not to misread China's restraint to be a sign of weakness. "China doesn't want to have a clash with India, but we don't fear it," the editor tweeted.
The Global Times newspaper, a tabloid published by China's ruling Communist Party's official newspaper, however, has not reported the casualties so far. The only news report on the border clash was based on the foreign ministry briefing.
According to the Indian army, the border clash at Galwan valley took place when the de-escalation process was underway. Officials later said military commanders, Major General Abhijit Bapat, commander of the Karu-based HQs 3 Infantry Division and his Chinese counterpart are holding talks at the site of the clash to defuse tensions.
A Colonel-rank officer, the commanding officer of the unit posted at the standoff point, was among the three to have died in Monday's clash. The deaths, the first in a clash with the People's Liberation Army along the Line of Actual Control in 45 years, were mostly attributed to stones thrown by both sides. Some soldiers also used rods to hit the other side. In 1975, an Indian patrol was ambushed by Chinese troops in Arunachal Pradesh's Tulung La. Four Assam Rifles soldiers were killed in the attack.