China reiterates sovereignty claim over Galwan Valley; refuses to comment on casualties

However, sources citing US intelligence reports, said China suffered 35 casualties

Pangong-Lake-India-China-Ladakh-AP In this July 22, 2011 file photo, people stand by the banks of the Pangong Lake, near the India-China border in Ladakh, India | AP

China on Wednesday claimed that the sovereignty of the Galwan Valley area in Ladakh "always belonged to it," a day after the armies of the two countries were engaged in a violent face-off. The External Affairs Ministry on Wednesday said the violent confrontation between armies of India and China in eastern Ladakh was the result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo in the region.

The ministry said both sides suffered casualties that could have been avoided had the agreement arrived earlier at the higher level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side. At a briefing at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Spokesman Zhao Lijian refused to comment on reports of 43 casualties on the Chinese side during the face-off in the Galwan Valley on Monday night. "The border troops are dealing with relevant matters," he said.

When pointed out that India has released the number of casualties and why Beijing was not providing the number for Chinese side, he said, "I have stated that Chinese and Indian border troops are now jointly dealing with the relevant matter on the ground. I have nothing to add at the moment."

On the situation at the China-India border both sides are having close communication with each other resolving this through diplomatic and military channels, Zhao said.

"The overall border situation is stable and controllable," he told correspondents to a volley of questions. 

Meanwhile, Indian official sources, citing US intelligence inputs, said the Chinese Army suffered 35 casualties during the violent clash, PTI reported. The figure could be a combination of total number of soldiers killed and seriously wounded, the sources added. Earlier, it was claimed that the Chinese side suffered "proportionate casualties" in the Galwan clash.

Twenty Indian Army personnel, including a colonel, were killed in the clash on Monday night, the biggest military confrontation in over five decades that has significantly escalated the already volatile border standoff between the two countries.

A large number of Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation in Galwan Valley and certain other areas of eastern Ladakh for the last five weeks, including in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh.