Months after China refusing to acknowledge the death of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers who lost their lives during the Galwan valley clash, reports are emerging that provides evidence of Chinese casualty in the recent clash with the Indian troops.
According to M Taylor Fayler, a Chinese expert from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one particular image showing the tombstone of a 19-year-old Chinese soldier who died in the “China-India Border Defense Struggle” in June 2020 has gone viral on Chinese social media platform Weibo.
The images of a tombstone of a Chinese soldier in Galwan valley was shared on a military forum in China, which describes details of the slain soldier. The picture identifies the soldier as Chen Xiangrong.
A picture is circulating on Weibo, showing the tombstone of a 19 year old Chinese soldier who died in the “China-India Border Defense Struggle” in June 2020. He was from Fujian Province. https://t.co/Brrw5o7h4z— M. Taylor Fravel (@fravel) August 28, 2020
“Tomb of Chen Xiangro. Soldier of the 69316 troops, from Pingnan, Fujian. He sacrificed his life in the struggle against India’s border troops in June 2020 and was posthumously remembered by the Central Military Commission.” read the epitaph, written in Mandarin.
The tombstone also reportedly read that the soldier, who was ‘Killed in Action (KIA) was born in December 2001 and was just 19-year-old.
According to Fravel, the tombstone also reveals information regarding the deceased soldier’s unit. The 69316 unit, mentioned in the tombstone appears to be a border defence company based in Tianwendian near the Chip Chap River valley, north of the Galwan Valley. He added these new set of images provided a narrow glimpse into the Chinese units that were deployed the Galwan River Valley.
Another source close to Fayer also said to him that the unit is part of the 13th Border Defense Regiment. This unit was named as “united combat model company” by the Central Military Commission.
Another source states it is part of the 13th Border Defense Regiment (边防团).https://t.co/Brrw5o7h4z— M. Taylor Fravel (@fravel) August 28, 2020
As these images have gone viral on social media platforms in China, the Chinese government has arrested the soldier who put up the photo on the internet.
These are the first set of evidence linking to the heavy casualties PLA troops suffered in the recent skirmish between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
However, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the People’s Liberation Army have remained tight-lipped about the casualties of its soldiers. Most importantly, China is yet to issue any official information regarding the number of casualties it suffered during the Galwan clashes.
China had denied funeral services to its fallen soldiers
Earlier, we had reported on how the Chinese government had strictly denied an opportunity to the family of deceased PLA soldiers to hold a public funeral.
After a severe loss of face for China against India in the clashes along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, the Chinese government had reportedly passed strict orders to the family of the deceased PLA soldiers not to hold a public funeral for them as it could reveal details regarding the real losses to the Chinese in the recent clashes along the LAC.
China had failed to accept the fact that its soldiers were killed in the border clash with the Indian soldiers at Galwan Valley. Apparently, the CPC wanted to hide the losses in the incident and present a tough image to the world.
The Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs has reportedly directed the family members of deceased Chinese soldiers who killed in the Galwan Valley that they should abandon conventional burial services and instead cremate the soldiers in a discreet manner.
The Indian intelligence had revealed that the Chinese side suffered 43 casualties including the dead and seriously injured. Even, American intelligence estimates that 35 of the Chinese soldiers were killed in the Galwan clash.
According to experts, China fears that images of gravestones for its fallen soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army could further stoke those sentiments if spread on Chinese or international social media.
Galwan valley clash
On June 15, the Chinese troops had attacked the Indian troops along the LAC near Ladakh border. The clashes had resulted in India losing 20 of its soldiers.
The fallen Indian soldiers were honoured by the government and their last rites were performed in the presence of government representatives, accorded them the due status of martyrs. PM Modi and the COAS had also visited to meet and speak to the injured soldiers.