China claims valley where Indian, Chinese soldiers brawled

NEW DELHI (AP) — China said the Galwan Valley high up in the Himalayan border region where Chinese and Indian troops engaged in a deadly brawl this week falls entirely within China, boldly laying claim to the disputed area as the Asian giants continued using military and diplomatic channels to reduce tensions.

The confrontation in the Galwan Valley, part of the disputed Ladakh region along the Himalayan frontier, was the deadliest between the two countries in 45 years. India blames China for instigating the fight by developing infrastructure in the valley, which it said was a breach of the agreement of what area remained in dispute.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a statement on Friday that “the Galwan Valley is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control in the west section of the China-India boundary.”

He blamed incursions by Indian troops in the area from early May for a midnight clash on Monday that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

China has not said whether it suffered any casualties.

Soldiers brawled with clubs, rocks and their fists in the thin air at 4,270 metres above sea level, but no shots were fired, Indian officials have said. The soldiers carry firearms but are not allowed to use them under a previous agreement in the border dispute.

Indian security officials have said the fatalities were caused by severe injuries and exposure to subfreezing temperatures.

The valley falls within a remote stretch of the 3,380-kilometre Line of Actual Control — the border established following a war between India and China in 1962 that resulted in an uneasy truce.