China reinforced its troops near the Indian border with mountain climbers and martial arts fighters shortly before a deadly clash this month, state media reported. Tensions are common between the two nuclear-armed neighbours in the mountainous border terrain, but this month’s fighting was their deadliest encounter in over 50 years. Five new militia divisions including former members of a Mount Everest Olympic torch relay team and fighters from a mixed martial arts club presented themselves for inspection at Lhasa on June 15, official military newspaper China National Defense News reported. State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of hundreds of new troops lining up in the Tibetan capital.
Tibet commander Wang Haijiang said the Enbo Fight Club recruits would “greatly raise the organization and mobilization strength” of troops and their “rapid response and support ability,” China National Defense News reported, although he did not explicitly confirm their deployment was linked to ongoing border tensions. Chinese and Indian troops clashed later that day in the most violent confrontation between the two powers in decades, in the Ladakh region 1,300 kilometers away. India says 20 of its own soldiers were killed in brutal hand-to-hand combat that day, while China suffered an unknown number of casualties. Both sides have blamed each other for the battle, which was fought with rocks and batons without any shots fired. India said Thursday that it had reinforced troops in the contested Himalayan border region, saying it was matching a similar buildup by China.