After months of denying any casualties during the violent faceoff with Indian troops in Galwan Valley last year, China has now not only admitted that it lost its soldiers but is now glorifying their ‘martyrdom’. Chinese state media Global Times on Monday published an article speaking about death of a Chinese soldier Chen Hongjun, who died while allegedly trying to save his fellow soldiers.
In a tale glorifying his so-called heroics, Chinese state media ends up admitting that Chen and ‘other soldiers died’ at the battleground. “At the battleground where Chen Hongjun and other soldiers died, soldier Chen Xiangrong was lying next to Chen Hongjun’s body, maintaining a posture of protecting his battalion commander,” Global Times reported.
Chinese state media Global Times further claims that the 33-year-old died along with his four ‘comrades-in-arms’ stationed at the Karakoram Mountains. Before 1st July, when Communist Party of China (CPC) celebrated 100 years of its foundation, CPC Central Military Commission awarded Chen Hongjun the honorary title of “Hero to defend the border”. He was also one of the 29 awardees of the July 1 Medal, the highest honour given by the CPC.
China officially admits casualties in Galwan Valley face-off
Earlier in February this year, China’s state media People’s Daily reported today that four Chinese soldiers “who were sacrificed in last June’s border conflict, were posthumously awarded honorary titles and first-class merit citations. A colonel, who led them and seriously injured, was conferred with honorary title”.
This was the first time China had officially admitted to casualties from its side.
Interestingly, while China had denied to own up to casualties on its side, in August 2020, reports had emerged that provided evidence of Chinese casualty in the recent clash with the Indian troops. This came weeks after China refused to acknowledge the death of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers who lost their lives during the Galwan valley clash.
One image had emerged back then which showed a tombstone of a 19-year-old soldier who died in the “China-India Border Defense Struggle” in June 2020. The image went viral on China’s social media platform Weibo. “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.
China, however, had denied such claims. Later, the Communist country awarded four of its slain soldiers. Since China has a penchant for downplaying its own losses, it was believed back then that the actual number could have been much higher.
Now, one more PLA soldier’s ‘martyrdom’ is being hailed officially by China.
Galwan Valley clash
On June 15, 2020, 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. Estimates suggest China had lost 43 of its men. However, after months of denial, China has now officially acknowledged loss of at least 5 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.
Interestingly, this second admission of casualties, this time with glorification, comes at a time when there are unverified claims of skirmishes between India and China in the Ladakh region. It appears to be part of psy-ops where China is trying to motivate their soldiers. Last year, China had not even owed up the dead, which is the worst that can happen to a soldier killed in action and can impact the psyche of other troops, leaving them demoralized and dispirited. On the other hand, India didn’t try to hide any casualties and gave proper respect to those soldiers who made supreme sacrifice for the motherland.