China arrests Net user for ‘rumours’ about Galwan clash casualties

He allegedly linked ‘casualties’ to “the poor quality of military vehicles”

Chinese police have arrested a person for “spreading rumours online” about the June 15 border clash with India and linking Chinese casualties to “the poor quality of military vehicles”.

Also read: After Chinese pullback, Indian troops also move 1.5 km away from Galwan Valley clash site

A report on China Military Online, an official English language website affiliated to the Ministry of Defence, said on Thursday that “a netizen surnamed Zhou was arrested by the police in accordance with the law, because he spread the rumours online by saying that the poor quality of military vehicles supplied by the Dongfeng Off-road Vehicle Co., Ltd. has caused the death of Chinese soldiers during the China-India border clash”.

Twenty Indian soldiers died in the June 15 clash, which marked the worst violence on the border since 1967. China has not revealed the number of its casualties on its side.

The report said that on August 3, “after learning via the Internet” about a post on social networking app WeChat by the user identified only as Zhou, alleging corruption in the firm, the Dongfeng Company “immediately reported to the local police and established a special working group to investigate and verify the case.”

Also read: China lays claim to entire Galwan Valley

The following day, he was arrested by the local police and he “confessed to his crime of rumour-mongering, showed remorse, and wrote a sincere apology letter”, the report said.

Sensitive question

The question of casualties in the June 15 clash has been a sensitive one for the Chinese authorities, with some comments on Weibo, the Twitter-like social media site, drawing a contrast between India’s public acknowledgement of the sacrifice of its soldiers, and China’s secrecy.

Also read: China demands India’s withdrawal from Galwan Valley

China’s Ambassador to India, Sun Weidong, said at a July 30 webinar that revealing casualties would add to the bilateral tensions. “What we are now doing is to make joint efforts to de-escalate the situation and ease the tension along border areas,” he said. “We hope India can understand the goodwill from the Chinese side to not make contradictions even more higher.”

In June, a source close to the People’s Liberation Army told the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post that Beijing was ‘very sensitive’ about military casualties, saying all numbers had to be approved by President Xi Jinping, who heads the Central Military Commission, before being released.”

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