Never-before-seen footage showing Chinese and Indian troops brawling in what appears to be a location on the nations’ mutual border surfaced online on Wednesday, months after a similar clash led to the deadliest incident between the countries in decades.
The South China Morning Post reported that an unnamed Chinese military source confirmed the authenticity of the video, which shows the two sides fighting each other with sticks and their bare hands. The source said that the lack of firearms indicated the two sides were showing restraint and dated the video to have been taken some months ago.
The footage may have come from the June 15 clash between the two armies in the Galwan Valley of India’s Ladakh region, which led to the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers. China has refused to reveal how many casualties it suffered as a result of the scuffles, though Indian officials have estimated that twice the number of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops died as Indian soldiers.
The footage may also be from another incident. A separate analyst told the Morning Post that it could have been filmed as early as May.
“Judging from their weapons, this video is an earlier clash, as we know the two sides only began to send in their better-equipped units after May,” the analyst said. “This may be Beijing’s way of telling the Chinese people and India to some extent that it has evidence to show who broke the agreement [of not using firearms] and who started the fight.”
The June brawl in Galwan Valley was the deadliest brawl in over half a century between the countries, having broken out after Indian soldiers questioned People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops on why they were setting up tents in Indian territory.
Last month, an Indian Defense Ministry document warned that conflict between the two sides in the disputed border area is likely to be prolonged due to a breakdown in talks.
Tensions continue to intensify after shots were fired on Monday during a stand-off at Pangong Tso, a high mountain lake. Indian officials said last week that they had successfully prevented another PLA contingent of about 200 soldiers from taking over a mountain in India overlooking the lake.
Negotiations between the two sides remain ongoing. The Chinese and Indian defense ministers met in Moscow last Friday for talks. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Thursday at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation during a week-long trip to Russia, although there remains no sign of breaking the impasse in the immediate future.