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News Analysis: With media blitz, China is crafting a new narrative on the border crisis

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The carefully crafted narrative, which was substantiated by state media which released new footage of the June 15 Galwan clash, was timed to full effect.

In the past 24 hours, the Indian Embassy in Beijing has received thousands of messages in its mentions on Weibo, the Twitter equivalent used in China, more than it has ever received in a day.

Most of them were angry and abusive, with Chinese netizens expressing their anger at the news on Friday morning of the deaths of four soldiers in the Galwan Valley shock that took place there. at eight months.

Read also: impasse LAC | India and China had frank talks: MEA

The flood of messages, which began on Friday night, came as no big surprise. Throughout the day, state media had highlighted the announcement of honors for five soldiers, four awarded posthumously. The names and images of the five were shared widely on Chinese social media, along with their personal stories, leading to a wave of sentiment.

A carefully crafted narrative

The carefully crafted narrative, which was backed up by state media which released new footage of Galwan’s June 15 shock, has been timed to give its full effect. The announcement was made a day after China’s return to work after a seven-day national holiday for the Lunar New Year, and nine days after India and China announced the start of a disengagement process. .

Also read: India, China start 10th round of negotiations on next phase of disengagement

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said the announcement, made eight months after the clash in which 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives, was intended to honor the soldiers and set the record straight, after having accused India of distorting the truth and slandering the Chinese. border troops.

While waiting for the disengagement to start, the Chinese government avoided a situation where it would inflame national sentiment amid an ongoing border crisis. The media blitz, which touched a national nerve in China, also occupied the center of attention, rather than any questions about the PLA’s acceptance to withdraw from the north shore of Pangong Lake and other areas. that she occupied.

Read also: dead end in Ladakh | India, China finalize phased disengagement plan

The broader purpose of the narrative appears to be to underline the message that the Communist Party had defended China and to portray India as the aggressor, a message that was repeated in the official media.

It’s a head-to-head tale of the genesis of last year’s border crisis, which began with a massive mobilization of PLA troops along the border following a military exercise that took surprised India and multiple transgressions across the Real Line of Control (LAC) which resulted in India losing access to territory and multiple patrol points, an unusual outcome for any supposed aggressor.

Popular hashtag on social media

The details of the PLA withdrawal didn’t stop the most popular social media hashtag of the day, which read, “Not an inch of the mountains and rivers of our country can be lost.

This was shared by some of the most popular Chinese celebrities, including singer Hua Chenyu, who shared the post with her 39 million subscribers. Popular pop group TFBoys did the same with its 21 million subscribers, adding a message of thanks to the PLA soldiers. By the end of Friday, the hashtag had registered 1.6 billion views and generated more than 1.7 million posts.

Official media accounts shared stories of the bravery of the four deceased soldiers: Battalion Commander Chen Hongjun and Soldiers Chen Xiangrong, Xiao Siyuan and Wang Zhuoran. Videos were also shared of regiment commander Qi Fabao, injured in the head and honored as the regiment’s commanding hero for defending the border, in a previous confrontation with Indian soldiers.

State media also shared articles from their battlefield diary, including a note from Wang Zhuoran to his parents, written before he left for the battlefield, apologizing for not being able to become a filial son again. and promising to repay their love and care in the country. life after death.

The other messages were both patriotic and political. We are the border marker of the homeland and every inch of land under our feet is the territory of the homeland, said Xiao Siyuan. Achievement should be marked wherever it is needed by the Communist Party, was the message of Chen Hongjun, the battalion commander.

PLA Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, Defense Ministry spokesman, described the five as iron soldiers fed by Xi Jinping’s thinking on Chinese-style socialism for a new era and the Xi Jinpings thinking of the strengthening of the army, and as outstanding representatives of the Chinese military in the new era.

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