Washington DC [USA], June 23: A senior Chinese general authorised his forces to attack Indian troops in the Galwan River valley last week, resulting in a brutal skirmish that killed dozens and dramatically escalated tensions between the two Asian powerhouses, according to a U.S. intelligence assessment, ANI reported
Gen. Zhao Zongqi, head of the Western Theater Command and among the few combat veterans still serving in the People’s Liberation Army, approved the operation along the contested border region of northern India and southwestern China, a source familiar with the assessment says on the condition of anonymity to ANI.
According to U.S. News, Zhao, who has overseen prior standoffs with India, has previously expressed concerns that China must not appear weak to avoid exploitation by the United States and its allies, including in New Delhi, the source says, and saw the faceoff last week as a way to “teach India a lesson.”
The assessment contradicts China’s subsequent assertions about what happened on June 15.
And it indicates the deadly and contentious incident – in which at least 20 Indian and 35 Chinese troops died, and reportedly a handful on each side were captured and subsequently released – was not the result of a tense circumstance that spiralled out of control, as has happened before, but rather a purposeful decision by Beijing to send a message of strength to India.
It remains unclear the extent to which Chinese President Xi Jinping was involved in the decisions that led to the bloody encounter, though analysts familiar with Chinese military decision making say he would have almost certainly known about the orders.
Troops had massed on both sides of the border in recent months in the northern India region of Ladakh and the southwestern Chinese region of Aksai Chin, causing global concerns of a potential escalation between the two.
Private geo-intelligence firm Hawkeye 360 recently reported that satellite imagery from late May showed a buildup on the Chinese side of what appeared to be armed personnel carriers and self-propelled artillery. (ANI)