A long report published by China’s PLA Daily on the 19th under the title “Heroes stand in Karakorum” reverts on the course of events during the clash between Indian and Chinese forces in the Galwan Valley in June last year, and details the heroic deeds of five PLA officers and soldiers. Among them, four were killed and one was seriously injured. The Central Military Commission honored them. At home, the public was deeply moved and shaken, and the vow of the border guards “not to let go of even an inch of the motherland” was widely forwarded and quoted by netizens. Abroad, the casualties of the PLA in that conflict have been of great concern, and some Indian media have repeatedly speculated and reported inaccurate information since June last year. Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman, Ren Guoqiang said on the 19th that, after the conflict, China has observed a high degree of restraint in order to maintain the overall situation of relations between the two countries, but the Indian side had repeatedly speculated about casualties exaggeratedly. China must clarify the truth to set the record straight.
Hua Chunying: Reading the report several times over, i was very moved
On the 19th, the Chinese side announced for the first time the list of officers and soldiers who died in the standoff in the Galwan Valley: battalion commander Chen Hongjun, soldier Chen Xiangrong, soldier Xiao Siyuan, and soldier Wang Zhuo Ran. Among them, the youngest Chen Xiangrong was born in 2001, and Wang Zuoran and Xiao Siyuan were only 24 years old when they died. The commander Qi Fabao, who took the lead and was seriously wounded, was the first casualty. The Central Military Commission awarded Qi Fabao the honorary title of “Heroic Leader of the Border Guard”, posthumously awarded Chen Hongjun the honorary title of “Hero of the Border Guard”, and gave Chen Xiangrong, Xiao Siyuan and Wang Zuoran a posthumous first-class merit.
Hong Kong “South China Morning Post” said on the 19th, that the official media blamed India for the casualties “without naming” it. Throughout the report, the PLA Daily used the term “relevant foreign troops” and “foreign parties” to refer to India. The article details that in June 2020, foreign troops crossed the line and set up tents in blatant violation of the consensus reached with us. In accordance with the usual practice of handling border incidents and the agreement previously agreed upon by the two sides, the commander Qi Fabao, with the sincerity of negotiating a solution, went out to negotiate with only a few officers and soldiers, wading through the waist-deep river. In the meantime, the other side had premeditatedly lurked and mobilized a large number of troops in an attempt to force us to back down by virtue of the large number of people. “One after another, their men emerged from behind the cliffs, crowding the river bank in the dark ……” recalls Chen Hongyu, a staff officer, “Although we were few in number, we could not retreat even if we were desperate!”
“You broke the consensus, you have to bear all the consequences!” Faced with the situation before him, Qi Fabao opened his arms to block the foreign troops, rebuking them loudly. At the same time, he organized his officers and soldiers to occupy favorable terrain and confront the foreign troops, who were several times larger in numbers. The other side attacked with steel pipes, sticks and rocks, and Qi Fabao became a key target, suffering heavy injury on his head. “The commander was at the front to block the foreign troops, the battalion commander to save the commander, soldiers to save the battalion commander, squad leaders to save the soldiers”, a commander recounted emotionally looking back at the events of that battle. Reinforcements arrived in time to rout the offenders and drive them away in one fell swoop. The foreign troops were routed, holding their heads as they fled, leaving behind a large number of line crossings and casualties, paying a heavy price.
Qi Fabao, who had just taken office as the head of the regiment, once led the soldiers to engrave eight characters on a cliff in the Galwan River Valley: Great rivers and mountains, not an inch of land (to be ceded). This is their oath, and also the common aspiration of the Chinese people: the top-ranking message in the comment section of related reports in the social media on the 19th were also these eight words. Some netizens said that such facts should be written into textbooks. Teenagers should not only learn the deeds of past heroes, but also know how contemporary heroes defend the motherland with flesh and blood, so that they know how to cherish the present peace they enjoy.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said emotionally at a regular press conference on the 19th that after the publication of the relevant report, she read it several times, “The deeds of these heroic soldiers on the border have left us shocked”. For example, Chen Hongjun was going to be a father in no more than four months at that time, and Xiao Siyuan looked forward to marrying his beloved girl soon, but unfortunately, they did not wait to see the light of those days. “Reading the 18-year-old Chen Xiangrong’s words, “Clear Love, only for China, I was very moved”.
“Clarify the truth to set the record straight”
A question that sparked international public opinion on the 19th was why China reverted to the course of the conflict in the Galwan Valley now, after eight months. Ministry of Defense spokesman Ren Guoqiang said the same day that in June last year, the Indian army deliberately created the Galwan Valley clash, resulting in casualties on both sides, and the responsibility rests entirely with the Indian side. After the conflict, China observed a high degree of restraint in order to maintain the overall situation in the relationship of the two countries and the two armies, and to facilitate cooling down and easing of the situation, which reflects China’s magnanimity as a responsible power. However, the Indian side has repeatedly exaggerated the casualties, distorting the truth, misleading international public opinion and smearing the officers and soldiers of the Chinese border defense forces.
The Indian mainstream media reported extensively on the casualties disclosed by the Chinese side on the 19th, but did not mention the details of the confrontation, and they are still repeating some of the previous inaccurate reports. “Deutsche Welle” 19 combed through “Hindustan Times”, Zee TV, etc. after the standoff in the Galwan Valley, who had quoted “senior Indian government officials” or anonymous “sources to “disclose” the so-called casualty figures and situation of the PLA.
“History cannot be tampered with, and heroes cannot be forgotten. The Chinese media’s public reporting of heroes reflects the responsibility of the media to objectively report the facts. It is conducive to clarifying the truth and letting the world see the right and wrong in it”., Ren Guoqiang stressed on the 19th.
Lin Minwang, an expert on South Asian issues at Fudan University, told the South China Morning Post that the announcement of casualties is actually very sensitive information. Officials should publicly pay tribute to the sacrificed martyrs while also finding the right time to do so. Announcing it now is a balancing act, taking into account the interests of both sides from a broader perspective to avoid a breakdown in relations and increasing hostility in public opinion.
“Work related to the disengagement of frontline border troops is now proceeding in an orderly manner, and the situation on the Sino-Indian border is expected to gradually return to the peace and tranquility that existed before the long standoff”, Qian Feng, Director of the Research Department of the National Institute of Strategic Studies at Tsinghua University, told the Huan Qiu Shi Bao on 19 June that China’s commemoration of the martyrs at this time is not only a full demonstration of its determination to safeguard the core interests of the country to the outside world, but also an indication of its commitment to maintaining stability in Sino-Indian relations and a demonstration of China’s rational, advantageous, and disciplined style of major power diplomacy in the new situation. “This is in stark contrast to certain Indian politicians and anti-China media who are trying their best to exaggerate hatred and fan nationalism and anti-China sentiments”.
Indian media: Indian troops withdraw from several high points
On the 10th of this month, the Chinese and Indian governments announced the simultaneous and planned disengagement of troops from both sides’ armies located on the southern and northern banks of the Pangong Lake from the same day. The Times of India quoted sources as saying that the current stage of disengagement has been completed on the 19th and that the two sides may hold the tenth round of military commander-level talks on the Chinese side of the actual control line between the two countries on the 20th local time. This round of talks will focus on the issue of disengagement at other border confrontation points, leaving aside the Pangong Lake area.
According to the “India Express”, the arrangement for holding of a new round of military commander-level talks means that the Indian and Chinese armed forces have withdrawn from the fourth finger area on the northern shore of Pangong Lake and the Indian forces from the important commanding heights such as Rizan La Pass and Rai Chin Pass. “The agreement (for disengagement) has been submitted in writing to higher authorities in headquarters for approval and then put into effect” and “all actions are verified and confirmed on a daily basis”, Joshi, commander of the Indian Army’s Northern theater of operations, told the newspaper, adding that “the Chinese side has shown good faith”.
But at the same time, the Indian government has not given up construction and upgrading of infrastructure in the India-China border region. According to a report in India’s “Economic Times” of the 19th, an anonymous government official revealed that approval has been given to build 18 border patrol trails in “Arunachal Pradesh” (our Southern Tibetan region), so that “the Indian Army can use these trails as a supplement to its road transport routes. “It will be more conducive to the delivery of personnel and supplies.” The plan is expected to cost a total of 11.62 billion rupees (1 rupee is about 0.1 yuan).
According to the “Times of India” report, Indian Foreign Secretary Shringla described India-China relations as “complex” and inevitably dependent on the normalization of the border situation, during his visit to Moscow on Wednesday.
China’s position on resolving the Sino-Indian border issue is clear, consistent and sincere. The Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs both stressed in their statements of the 19th that China has always been committed to resolving disputes through dialogue and negotiation, maintaining the overall situation of relations between the two countries and the two militaries, and facilitating cooling down and de-escalation of the situation as soon as possible to restore peace and tranquility in the Sino-Indian border region.