India has announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 after China made a PLA regiment commander named Qi Fabao as a torchbearer during the ‘Torch Relay’. Fabao had sustained head injury while fighting against the Indian Army in the Galwan Valley conflict.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi called the decision “regrettable” adding that China has chosen to politicise the sporting event. He announced that Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of India in Beijing will not attend the opening and closing ceremonies of this event.
“Regrettable that China has chosen to politicise the Olympics. The Indian envoy will not attend the opening or closing ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics,” Bagchi said.
Soon after this announcement from the MEA, Prasar Bharti CEO Shashi Shekhar said the national broadcaster Doordarshan will not telecast live the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics held in Beijing.
When asked about China making a PLA soldier involved in Galwan valley clash as the torchbearer, the US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that the US continues to support direct dialogue and peaceful resolution of border disputes.
He further added that the US has time and again expressed concerns over Beijing’s “patter of ongoing attempts to intimidate its neighbours.” Price further said, “We stand with friends, we stand with partners and allies, to advance our shared prosperity, security and values in the Indo-Pacific.”
A member of the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Senator Jim Risch also said that it is “shameful” that Beijing chose a PLA commander, who was a part of the military command that attacked India in 2020, as a torchbearer for the Olympics 2022.
He further stated that Beijing still continues to support the genocide against the Uyghurs, while adding that the US will continue to support Uyghur freedoms and the sovereignty of India.
As many as 20 Indian Army soldiers laid down their lives in the clashes that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades. These clashes took place in June 2020 in the Galwan Valley of Ladakh’s eastern sector.
Meanwhile, Australian newspaper The Klaxon claimed that China’s losses in the Galwan valley clash in 2020 were much higher than reported with many soldiers drowning while crossing a fast-flowing river in darkness. It cited findings by unnamed researchers and mainland Chinese bloggers. The report also said that Beijing has gone to extreme lengths to silence discussion about the battle.
“Claims of substantial Chinese casualties are not new however evidence provided by a group of social media researchers, which The Klaxon has independently built on, appears to support claims that China’s casualties extended well beyond the four soldiers named by Beijing,” it said.
The Klaxon report further stated that Indian troops went to a disputed area in the Galwan Valley on June 15 night to remove a Chinese encroachment. It is then that they were met by China’s Colonel Qi Fabao and 150 Chinese soldiers who formed a battle formation instead of discussing the issue with the Indian troops. It is the same Qi Fabao who has been made the torchbearer of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
(With inputs from Geeta Mohan)
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