China said Wednesday it wanted to avoid further clashes with India along their Himalayan border after the first deadly confrontation between the two nuclear powers in decades.
The two countries have traded blame for Monday’s high-altitude brawl that left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead, with China refusing to confirm so far whether there were any casualties on its side.
India’s NDTV reported that no fewer than 45 Chinese soldiers were either dead or injured.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian insisted again Wednesday that it was Indian troops who illegally crossed the border and attacked the Chinese side.
This led to “a serious physical confrontation between both sides that caused deaths and injuries”, Zhao said at a regular briefing, without providing more details about the casualties.
He said China urges India to “strictly restrain frontline troops, do not illegally cross the border, do not make provocative gestures, do not take any unilateral actions that will complicate the border situation”.
But he added that the two sides “will continue to resolve this issue through dialogue and negotiations”.
“We of course don’t wish to see more clashes,” Zhao said.
Tthe clash between the two nuclear powers began over the movement of a tent.
A small Indian patrol party had moved to remove the Chinese tent in the Galwan river valley at 15,000 feet.
China had agreed to remove the tent after talks between Lieutenant General-ranked officers of both sides on June 6.
The troops had agreed to withdraw to create an area that would separate the forces and ensure peace.
Sources said a physical fight broke out after the Chinese soldiers targeted the Indian Colonel, BL Santosh Babu.
Both sides were armed with batons and rods with nails.
Reinforcements were called in by both sides on several occasions, said army sources.
There are multiple injuries on both sides.
Several soldiers fell into the Galwan River during the six-hour fight.
Extreme cold and hypothermia worsened the situation.