China insists it won't start war with India but won't ‘run away’ either as nuke powers face off in bloody border row

CHINA has insisted it won't start an all our war with India – but chillingly warned it won't back down either.

The two nuclear-armed powers are facing off in a bloody border row which saw soldiers scrap in brutal hand-to-hand combat that killed at least 20 in the Himalayas.

The Global Times – the newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, which has a circulation of 1.5million – published a fiery editorial in which it blasted India.

It warned that Beijing will not back down from a confrontation – and said the "gap between China's and India's strength is clear".

The newspaper – which is often seen as the unfiltered mouthpiece of China's rulers – blamed India's "arrogance and recklessness" for the renewed tensions.

It added China will also not "bow to threats from New Delhi" over the border dispute – which on Monday saw its first fatalities since 1975.

"China does not want to turn border issues with India into a confrontation. This is goodwill and restraint from China," it said.

"But China is confident in the situation at the border. It does not and will not create conflicts, but it fears no conflicts either."

The chilling warning came as India has reportedly placed its warships and fighter jets on alert amid the row.

And in his first public comments, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country is ready to hit back if provoked by China.

In a televised address, the PM said: "I would like to assure the nation that the sacrifice of our jawans will not be in vain.

"For us, the unity and sovereignty of the country is the most important. India wants peace but it is capable to give a befitting reply if instigated."

Soldiers reportedly fell to their deaths in the violent clash along a Himalayan ridge which saw Indian and Chinese troops brawl with sticks and rocks.

The face-off erupted in the Galwan Valley in the northern Ladakh state.

No shots were fired in the clash, with many of the soldiers being unarmed.

India reported 20 of its soldiers died in the fighting, including high-ranking officer Colonel Bikumalla Santosh Babu.

China reportedly suffered 43 causalities, but it is unclear how many of the number were dead or seriously injured.

Both sides have blamed the other for triggering the confrontation, which is the latest – and most violent – in a long line of clashes.

Thousands of Indian and Chinese soldiers, backed by armored trucks and artillery, have been facing off a few hundred yards apart for more than a month in the region near Tibet.

Indian officials have said Chinese soldiers crossed the boundary in Ladakh in early May at three different points, erecting tents and guard posts and ignoring verbal warnings to leave.

That triggered shouting matches, stone-throwing and fistfights, much of it replayed on television news channels and social media.

Since then India has accused China of invading 20 square miles of its territory.

China also accused Indian troops of crossing its border and attacking its soldiers in the tit-for-tat border row.

Protests have erupted in India following the incident, with demonstrators seen burning portraits of Chinese president Xi Jinping.

And the Indian embassy in Beijing was today seen under the police guard.

The China-India border dispute covers nearly 2,175 miles of frontier that the two countries call the Line of Actual Control.

India accuses China of occupying almost 15,000 square miles of its territory.

They fought a bitter war in 1962 that spilled into Ladakh, and tensions have simmered ever since.

Soldiers from the two sides are also eyeball-to-eyeball in Naku La, in the north-eastern Indian state of Sikkim between Nepal and Bhutan.

General Bipin Rawat, chief of the defence staff, has reportedly been asked by the Indian government to prepare the army, air force and navy for any further potential clashes.

Sources reportedly said the Indian government wants to leave "nothing to chance" after the violence despite opening talks with China.

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