Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Two Chinese paramilitary police officers patrol outside the Indian embassy in Beijing on June 16, 2020. (Photo: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

'Unprecedented' Border Clash Between China and India Leaves at Least 20 Dead as Dangerous Tensions Rise

"It is an extraordinary escalation. No shots fired for 45 years, and then at least 20 soldiers dead in one evening in rock-throwing and bludgeoning."

Eoin Higgins

Tensions rose Tuesday between India and China, two of the world's nuclear powers, as a bloody battle with rocks and wooden clubs on the Himalayan border dividing the two nations left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

"It is an extraordinary escalation," said Shashank Joshi, Defense editor at The Economist. "No shots fired for 45 years, and then at least 20 soldiers dead in one evening in rock-throwing and bludgeoning."

The skirmish comes after weeks of simmering conflict between the two nations on their 2,200 mile mountain border that winds past disputed territories Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. 

As Vox explained, the two countries have disputed control over the region for decades:

For about 80 years, India and China have quarreled over a roughly 2,200-mile frontier spanning the Himalayas, occasionally going to war over their competing claims. Despite 20-plus rounds of negotiations, they haven't come close to agreeing on most of the boundaries, providing a continuous source of tension between Beijing and New Delhi.

The latest flare-up began last month in the Galwan Valley. India's government said that earlier this month, unprovoked Chinese troops threw rocks at Indian soldiers in the western Himalayas. Beijing counters that claim, instead blaming Indian forces for illegally walking into Chinese territory. Whatever the reason, a combined 100-plus soldiers from both sides sustained injuries during two skirmishes on May 5 and May 9.

Tuesday's conflict, with 20 dead on the Indian side, may make it difficult to de-escalate between the two nations, security analyst Vipin Narang told the BBC

"Once fatalities are sustained, keeping everything quiet becomes hard on both sides," said Narang. "Now public pressure becomes a variable. The scale, scope and swathe of the pressure across the border is seemingly unprecedented."

China has not yet released casualty figures from the fight, a move interpreted by some observers as an effort to quell anger in the country over the battle. 

"We urge both sides to exercise maximum restraint," said U.N. Secretary General António Guterres associate spokesperson Eri Kanek. "We take positive note of reports that the two countries are engaged in deescalating the situation."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Utterly Shameless': Former Democratic Senators Join Fossil Fuel Lobby Group

"This is climate denial and shameful bullshit," scoffed one scientist. "Also the future for Manchin and Sinema."

Brett Wilkins ·

'When You Don't Change People's Lives, People Get Upset,' Says AOC

To reverse slump in Democratic approval ratings, the congresswoman said Biden should start by cancelling student loan debt.

Julia Conley ·

Sioux Tribe Withdraws as Cooperating Agency Over Dakota Access Pipeline Threat

"The prospect of an oil spill during such low water is truly scary," says the tribe's Water Resources Department administrator.

Jessica Corbett ·

New Report Shows How US Transportation System 'Fuels Inequality'

Favoring cars over public transit has "consequences for racial and economic justice, the environment, and more," the Institute for Policy Studies warns.

Brett Wilkins ·

Gas Stoves Even Worse for Climate, Health Than Previously Thought

New study shows methane leaks from U.S. gas-burning stoves have a climate impact comparable to emissions from about 500,000 cars.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo