Galwan soldier as Olympic torchbearer: China dismisses India’s anger
China made light of India’s outrage at its decision to field a military officer involved in the Galwan Valley clash as a torchbearer for the ongoing Winter Olympics, saying not too much should be read into it politically.
China on Monday made light of India’s outrage at its decision to field a military officer involved in the Galwan Valley clash as a torchbearer for the ongoing Winter Olympics, saying not too much should be read into it politically.
Look at the decision rationally and don’t read too much into it politically, the Chinese foreign ministry said.
India last week announced that its current top diplomat in China, charge d’affaires at the embassy in Beijing, Acquino Vimal, will skip both the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games because Qi Fabao, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) regiment commander involved in the June 15, 2020 clash with Indian troops in Galwan Valley, was chosen by China as one of the torchbearers ahead of the Games’ opening.
Qi, who sustained a serious head injury during the clashes, was among the 1,200 torchbearers at a torch relay in Beijing on Wednesday.
India lost 20 troops in the clash and four Chinese soldiers also died.
India’s external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said it was regrettable that China had chosen to politicise an event like the Olympics.
When asked to comment whether the decision was insensitive, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian played it down. “I want to stress that the torch bearers of the Beijing Winter Olympics are broadly representative and they meet relevant standards. We hope that the relevant sides can view this (the decision) in a rational and objective light,” Zhao said on Monday.
“What I want to say is we hope relevant sides can view the choice of the torch bearers in objective and rational light. And don’t read too much into it from (a) political perspective,” Zhao said.
That’s exactly how it is being read by the Indian government in the backdrop of the ongoing border tension with China in eastern Ladakh since early 2020, which has plunged bilateral ties to the worst in decades.
Media reports have pointed out that China has said that the ongoing Winter Olympics should be used as a bridge to build friendships and ties but by fielding Qi, Beijing has broken that very principle.
The decision to deploy Qi rankled New Delhi even more as it had come out in support of the Games - unlike several western governments that had announced diplomatic boycott of the sporting event - ahead of the Olympics.
India’s expressed support for China in hosting the Beijing Olympics during a meeting of foreign ministers under the framework of Russia-India-China trilateral.
“The ministers expressed their support to China to host the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games,” a joint communique issued after the meeting said on November 26.
The fielding of Qi as a torchbearer is part of the pattern of the Chinese government’s propaganda narrative.
China’s PLA has stepped up propaganda on the ongoing standoff with its western theatre command (WTC) - which oversees the disputed border with India - announcing on January 7 that it will offer stones from the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh to netizens on February 1.
It was the Chinese government’s latest effort to use the brutal clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers on the night of June 15 in Galwan Valley as propaganda to push through its narrative, painting India as the aggressor.
On January 1 this year, Chinese official media released a video showing Chinese PLA soldiers unfurling the country’s flag somewhere in the Galwan valley.
Last October, it had released another video showing hundreds of PLA soldiers from unit 7895 of the Xinjiang military command standing in rows and shouting military slogans on the rocky banks of a river, flowing through a ravine, between cliffs.