United States intelligence reports have suggested that China authorized a strike on Indian troops located in the disputed Himalayan border region between their two nations. However, Chinese officials are disputing these reports.
According to The Hindustan Times, U.S. intelligence has claimed that General Zhao Zongqi, head of the Western Theater Command, purportedly approved the strike to “teach India a lesson.”
The skirmish, which took place on June 15, claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers, in addition to wounding dozens more. Though China has not released details about its own casualties, leaked military reports have suggested that at least 35 troops were killed, including a commanding officer.
The fact that sources are now claiming that the deadly incident was a planned attack goes against previous public statements made by Chinese officials, who had suggested that the scuffle was the result of a tense situation that had unexpectedly escalated.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao blamed India for the skirmish by accusing the Asian rival of a “deliberate provocation” (per The Inquisitr).
However, new intelligence reports are claiming that not only did Zhao approve the attack ahead of time but did so because he believed it was necessary for China to demonstrate strength in the face of increasing tensions. Throughout the spring, both countries had increased their troops along the border, and there had even been a minor scuffle in May.
Yet, some insiders believe that China’s recent move may have backfired. The deadly attack sparked outrage in India, and many anti-Chinese protests took place across the nation during the funerals of the 20 troops.
Moreover, foreign policy politicos have suggested that the June 15 event has likely pushed India to pursue a closer alliance with the United States and its allies instead of making the country more amenable to negotiations with China.
“India will try to align closer to the U.S. and others also wanting to check China,” predicted Manoj Joshi, a distinguished fellow with the New Delhi-based think tank Observer Research Foundation, per The Wall Street Journal.
“India will step up diplomatic efforts with like-minded countries like the U.S., U.K., Australia and Japan.”
“India-China relations today are at an inflection point,” added Ashok K. Kantha, director of the New Delhi-based Institute of Chinese Studies and former Indian ambassador to China. “India-China relations are under a lot of pressure at this point of time and if the Chinese don’t take corrective action, that pressure will increase.”