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Chinese state media play down deadly India border skirmish

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Chinese and Indian soldiers stood guard at the border between the two countries, in an image from 2008.<br />PHOTO: DIPTENDU DUTTA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSSE/GETTY IMAGES

Beijing’s state media on Wednesday played down a deadly border confrontation between Chinese and Indian troops and did not reveal casualties on its side even as social media users urged retaliation.

The Indian army said Tuesday that 20 of its soldiers were killed in a “violent face-off” along the Himalayan frontier on Monday, which resulted in “casualties on both sides”.

China’s defence ministry confirmed late Tuesday that there had been casualties, without giving a number, while state media stayed relatively quiet on the skirmish, the most violent in years.

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Brawls erupt regularly between soldiers from the world’s two most populous nations across their disputed 3,500-kilometre (2,200-mile) border — but none had proved fatal since 1975.

The Chinese nationalist tabloid Global Times reported the number of deaths on the Indian side, but said China had not released information about casualties.

Meanwhile, state broadcaster CCTV and the Communist Party-owned People’s Daily republished the Chinese military’s official statement on social media, without any additional reports.

CCTV’s widely watched daily Xinwen Lianbo evening news broadcast made no mention of the border confrontation on Tuesday.

The foreign ministry’s official transcripts of its Tuesday press briefing redacted remarks from its spokesman about the clashes.

The Global Times said in an editorial that China did not disclose the death toll of the confrontation “to avoid comparing and preventing confrontational sentiments from escalating”.

“China does not want to turn border issues with India into a confrontation,” the editorial said, blaming India for “arrogance and recklessness”.

But users on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social platform, were baying for blood.

“If we don’t beat India to death, this kind of provocation will never end,” one user wrote.

“Read from foreign media reports that 5 People’s Liberation Army soldiers died. I’m so angry that my blood is rushing to my head,” another said.

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