Galwan Clash Anniversary Makes A Lean Impact On Chinese Social Media

(This was originally posted in India Today by Saikiran Kannan)

The first anniversary of the Galwan valley clashes between Indian and Chinese armed forces witnessed a contrasting impact on the social media sphere of the two countries. In India, #Galwan and #GalwanHeroes occupied the top spots among daily trends. In comparison, popular Chinese social media platforms like Weibo only witnessed a handful of tweets that failed to make it to the trending topics of the day. Most of the Galwan related posts on Chinese social media were based on content produced and distributed by the state media.

While the number of casualties was high on both sides in the clashes, it was India that maintained the utmost transparency in revealing its losses and honoring the sacrifice of its soldiers. China, on the other hand, failed to acknowledge any losses initially, and then slowly started accepting that there were losses only because of leaks owing to social media posts from relatives of those PLA soldiers who had died during the clashes. As of today, China’s official stand is that four of its soldiers lost their lives.

How is China remembering its soldiers who perished in these clashes?

This year, China’s state-sponsored media have produced quite a few documentaries and news reels to honour their losses in the Galwan valley clash and used it as a sort of propaganda.

China celebrated the “Tomb Sweeping Day” on April 4. It is a very important custom in the Chinese calendar. On this day, people commemorate and show respect to their ancestors by visiting their graves, offering food, tea, or wine, burning incense, burning or offering joss paper (representing money), etc. They sweep the tombs, remove weeds, and add fresh soil to the graves.

During this day, relatives of the fallen PLA soldiers gathered around their tombs to pay respect. This also coincided with a lot of chatter on their social media sites.

Today, it is pretty much the same. While the Galwan valley clash or the remembrance of these soldiers are not a trending topic, there are a few posts related to the clashes shared by a few thousand accounts across social media platforms in China. Numerous accounts have also commented on these posts. “A year has gone by so quick. Pay my tributes to the soldiers” read one post. “19 years old, and still has a childish face,” reads another comment on one of the soldiers’ photo. The four dead PLA soldiers and their commander (who is alive) were given honorary titles and first-class merits as a mark of respect.

Is it a social media trend or is it government propaganda?

It is interesting to see that a country like China, which tremendously downplayed the Galwan valley clash last year, is now using its foreign media houses like Global Times to present a picture that Chinese citizens have thronged their social media to remember the dead PLA soldiers. This is not the case as nowhere did the Galwan valley anniversary feature in the trending topics on Chinese social media platforms.


India Today

Kartik Sud

I am working as a News Author With the DefenceXP network, Observing LOC and LAC

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