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An annual report from the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) sent to Congress claimed Beijing had organised the Galwan Valley clash, near the border town of Ladakh. Indian and Chinese forces engaged in hand-to-hand combat along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Himalayan region, leaving 20 Indian’s and unconfirmed numbers of Chinese forces killed. The border brawl has led to high tensions between the two Asian powers, with both countries carrying out military drills near the border and in contested waters.
India and China’s clash in the Galwan Valley was the “most severe border crisis in decades”, according to the USCC’s report to Congress.
The USCC said Beijing had “planned” the skirmish, and considered the “possibility for fatalities” ahead of the incident.
The report added: “For instance, several weeks prior to the clash Defence Minister Wei Fenghe made his statement encouraging Beijing to ‘use fighting to promote stability’.
“Just over two weeks before the incident, in another potential indication of Chinese leaders signalling their intent to escalate tensions, an editorial in China’s state-owned tabloid Global Times warned that India would suffer a “devastating blow” to its trade and economic ties with China if it got “involved in the U.S.-China rivalry.”
The USCC also claimed “satellite images depicted a large Chinese buildup in the Galwan Valley, including potentially 1,000 PLA soldiers, the week before the deadly skirmish”.
The report also discussed the “motivations” for Beijing’s “provocative behaviour on the LAC”.
The USCC claimed China targeted the Galwan Valley as Indian was building a strategic access road along the LAC, which Beijing has also carried out.
Following the skirmish, Beijing has claimed sovereignty of the entire Galwan Valley and has upped its deployment of troops.
Citing Dr Tanvi Madan, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, the report added China would regard the skirmish as a success if their intention was to “acquire territory”.
But the doctor added “the Chinese moves have been ineffective, if not counterproductive” if their aim was to dissuade India from developing infrastructure along the border.
Other findings from the USCC pointed out that China’s Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) have been increasing contacts with forces in South Asia.
The report claimed the PLA was providing “military education” to African nations and South Asian countries supportive of China.
It added: “The PLA has also brought officers from South Asian countries to China for professional military education and assisted with military construction projects, for example building an office and auditorium complex for the Sri Lankan Military Academy in December 2017.”
China and India have both expressed a desire to ease tensions over the LAC, but neither country has been able to agree on de-escalation terms during several rounds of discussions.
Beijing has also refused to confirmed whether they suffered any casualties in the skirmish, with some Indian reports claiming at least 70 Chinese troops died.
The July clash was the first stand-off between India and China that led to fatalities since 1975.
Since the incident, India and China have fired shots across the LAC and mobilised troops, but no outright conflict has taken place.
It comes as Pakistan, who have historically aggressive relations with India, signed a pact with China to support their actions in the Indo-Pacific continent.
Mr Wei met with Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Tuesday, with both nations signing a military deal.
Chinese state media reported the Pakistani President “firmly supports China’s stand on issues related to the South China Sea, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and so on”.
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