A blogger was jailed by a Chinese court over posts suggesting the death toll among Chinese soldiers in a China-Indian border clash last year was higher than claimed by the Chinese authorities.
Qiu Ziming, The Guardian, was among at least six people arrested in February for online posts about the Galwan Valley clash between Chinese and Indian troops in a disputed border area. A tense standoff that began in May escalated to shouting matches, stone-throwing and fistfights, before culminating on 15 June into a violent bout of hand-to-hand combat with clubs and stones, leaving dozens dead.
According to the report, Qiu, who had more than 2.5 million followers on Weibo, had suggested in blogposts that the actual count might be higher than the official tally, and that a commanding officer survived “because he was the highest-ranking officer there” – a comment that irked officials.
On Tuesday, he was sentenced to eight months in jails under a 2018 law outlawing the defamation of “heroes and martyrs”, the report said. He is the first person to be sent to prison under the law, which was amended earlier this year to allow jail terms of up to three years as penalty.
Qiu had “infringed on the reputation and honour of heroes and martyrs … and confessed to his crimes”, the report said quoting court verdict.
Qiu’s guilty plea brought him a lighter sentence, the Global Times said, adding that Qiu must also apologise publicly in the media and through “major domestic portals” within 10 days. Qiu has already made a televised confession, apologising on primetime CCTV wearing a prison uniform.
The 38-year-old from Nanjing was arrested in February for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, a broadly defined crime often used against journalist and activists, who are then prosecuted through an opaque justice system with conviction rates of more than 99%.
India has said that 20 of its soldiers were killed in the fierce hand-to-hand combat on June 15 in Galwan Valley, an incident that marked the most serious military conflicts between the two sides in over four decades. China did not officially confirm any deaths from its side until the bestowing of posthumous honours on four soldiers in February.