PLA Casualties: Big Reason why China is hiding the tally?

China is yet to reveal PLA casualties in the Galwan Clash with India. Official Chinese Channels have confirmed that there are casualties but refused to mention a number. The BIG QUESTION in India is Did China lose more soldiers than India? This might be viewed by many as a disgusting debate because there is a loss of life but the aim is not to arrive at a tally but to understand the reasons why China is not revealing its casualties

The two main reasons offered so far was

a. China never reveals its casualty figures and

b. That it does not wish to vitiate the dispute with India.

PLA may be attempting to keep its reputation intact

We were searching for PLA clashes with foreign troops over the last 40 years. Apart from Peacekeeping Operations where they seem to have lost less than half a dozen soldiers, there is no evidence of combat at all, so no chance of combat deaths in the first place. In fact, apart from the India border, China has no HOT Land borders. Unlike the Indian Army which is in constant conflict with Pakistan, the PLA has no neighbours indulging in a conflict with China. In fact, the Chinese Media in the past has actively announced its casualties in peacekeeping operations over the last 8 years. They see it as a positive contribution. The PLA too is very active in making claims about the efficacy of its Troops so as to enhance its own reputation. So it is bizarre that PLA did not jump and take credit for giving India a bloody nose.

PLA in peacekeeping Operations

Taking the past behaviour into account, the PLA might not be willing to share its tally of casualties because it sees a potential damage to its reputation amongst its citizens. That is also why the issue of actual number of casualties comes back into play. Had the tally been just 3-4 soldiers like in the case of UN peacekeeping efforts and of course much lower than India’s losses at Galwan, most Chinese would view still it as brave and positive. But what if the losses are actually 30-40? This would damage the reputation of the PLA as a weak fighting force. While it is possible to publish fake (and low) figures in public, it could enrage and lower the morale of PLA units involved in the Unit who would see it as a betrayal.

The fact is that the PLA has not been hesitant in the past to share casualty numbers. However, the likely large number of casualties in the clash against India may have discouraged the Chinese Government from revealing the numbers while acknowledging that there have been casualties. It is a safe option for them at the moment.

Taking all into account, it is fairly clear that there have been large Chinese Casualties and India is not making it a big deal because it has other issues to resolve rather than enraging the Chinese Public and getting caught in a border conflict with China.

Photo Courtesy: SCMP

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