China: PLA soldiers killed at Galwan Valley now part of education on patriotism
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is citing the example of Chinese soldiers killed during the Galwan Valley clash with Indian border personnel in mid-June 2020 to teach lessons on patriotism to China’s primary schoolchildren.
A video exchange between a border battalion of the Xinjiang military region and primary school students in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui, focusing on border defence, was held over the weekend.
It lauds the hardships and bravery of PLA troops posted along the border with India.
An article on the exchange between soldiers and students was published on Tuesday in an official military portal under the headline, “The heroic deeds of defending the country and border areas were introduced to the school classes, and the officers and soldiers stationed on the plateau were connected online to pupils thousands of miles away.”
The article mentioned how the death of one Chinese soldier at Galwan Valley left an impression on the students.
Though it did not mention the specific battalion, the ongoing India-China border tension in eastern Ladakh falls on the Karakoram mountain side of China, which is under the Xinjiang military region, and overall, under PLA’s Western Theatre Command.
Woven into the officially sanctioned exchange between the soldiers and students was the pro-China narrative that the PLA soldiers were defending their borders, and that India had allegedly trespassed the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
India has consistently denied allegations by Beijing of acting in a provocative manner since the standoff began in May last year and said that it was the PLA that breached the LAC.
The aim of educating the students about border military personnel’s “heroic deeds” was to guide them to “draw spiritual strength and patriotism from the soldiers and plant the seeds of patriotism in the hearts of the students”, the article quoted the school principal as saying.
The video conference was held between the soldiers and the students of the second primary school of Huazhong Road in Anqing city in Anhui province.
It was only in February that the Chinese government shared the details of the five Chinese officers and soldiers killed and injured at Galwan Valley - unlike India, which announced the death of 20 soldiers soon after the deadly clash in mid-June 2020.
The four who died were Chen Hongjun, Chen Xiangrong, Xiao Siyuan and Wang Zhuoran. Regimental commander Qi Fabao was injured in the skirmishes.
“Chen Xiarong was born after 2000. When he sacrificed his life, he was only seven years older than me. It really touched me that he wrote ‘I only devote my pure love to China’,” a student said.
“The story left great impressions on these pupils. Many of them hoped to express their salute by sending letters and others wanted to see soldiers via video call,” a teacher said.
“Students were moved by the vivid stories told by the soldiers on the 5,300-metre-high plateau,” the article said.
Ahead of the video interaction, the students and soldiers had exchanged letters, postcards and videos. The session on patriotism ended with a patriotic song and a pledge.