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Last week a brutal skirmish erupted between Chinese and Indian forces along the contested border region of northern India and southwestern China. The clash killed dozens of people and dramatically escalated tensions between the two states. Now, it has emerged a leading Chinese general authorised the operation.
General Zhao Zongqi, head of the Western Theater Command, is understood to have approved the operation, US intelligence agencies claim.
A source said the General has overseen previous standoffs with India and is keen to ensure China does not appear weak.
The General is understood to have masterminded last week’s clash as a way to “teach India a lesson”, the source claims.
The report contradicts China’s official explanation of what happened last week.
The Chinese government claimed the Indian Army provoked the attack by breaching the border of the Line of Actual Control (LAC)- which separates the Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying accused Indian troops of breaking “consensus” and violating territorial limits in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region.
She wrote on Twitter: “Indian front-line troops broke the consensus and crossed the Line of Actual Control, deliberately provoking and attacking Chinese officers and soldiers, thus triggering fierce physical conflicts and causing casualties.”
The clash between the two armies led to the deaths of at least 20 Indian and 35 Chinese soldiers and was the biggest military confrontation in over five decades.
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But Indian authorities refuted the claims by Beijing and said the clash was as a result of “planned action” by the Chinese state.
India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said: “The Chinese side took pre-meditated and planned action that was directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties.
“It reflected an intent to change the facts on ground in violation of all our agreements to not change the status quo.”
Mr Jaishankar spoke with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi after the incident and both leaders agreed to “cool down” tensions immediately.
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During the telephone call, the Chinese diplomat maintained that the incident was caused by the Indian army violating the agreement.
He claimed Indian front-line frontier troops “blatantly broke the consensus” reached at the military-level meeting between the two sides.
Mr Yi demanded a thorough investigation was launched into how the skirmish erupted, and suggested those responsible were “severely punished”.
He added: “The Indian side must not misjudge the current situation, and must not underestimate China’s firm will to safeguard the territorial sovereignty.”
The two sides agreed to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border area in accordance with the agreement reached between the two countries, an official statement said.
Last week’s violent confrontation was the first time since 1975 that China and India engaged in a military clash along the LAC.
Border tensions between the two countries have existed for over seven decades, as China claims territory in India’s northeast and New Delhi accuses Beijing of occupying its territory in Aksai Chin plateau, including part of the Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir.
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