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US flays China for making PLA trooper injured in Galwan clash torchbearer at Beijing Winter Olympics

Qi Fabao, the regimental commander from the People`s Liberation Army (PLA) Xinjiang military command, who suffered a serious head injury during the Galwan Valley border skirmish on June 15, 2020, took the flame from Wang Meng, China`s four-time Olympic short track speed skating champion, at Winter Olympic Park on Wednesday, reported Global Times.

Beijing: A top US senator has strongly criticised China for making a People`s Liberation Army’s regimental commander, who had suffered severe injuries during the Galwan clash, the torchbearer at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Torch Relay on Wednesday.

Qi Fabao, the regimental commander from the People`s Liberation Army (PLA) Xinjiang military command, who suffered a serious head injury during the Galwan Valley border skirmish on June 15, 2020, took the flame from Wang Meng, China`s four-time Olympic short track speed skating champion, at Winter Olympic Park on Wednesday, reported Global Times.

The controversial move faced sharp criticism from US senator Jim Risch who strongly condemned Beijing for choosing a torchbearer for the winter games who was a part of the military command that attacked India in 2020 and is also “implementing genocide against the Uyghurs”.

Calling China's actions “shameful”, Senator Risch, a ranking member of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations,  reaffirmed the United States' commitment to supporting Uyghur freedom and the sovereignty of India.

After reporting his inclusion among the Olympics' 1,200 torchbearers, China's state media Global Times feted Qi – who sustained a serious head injury during the fighting – as a “hero” for his role in the Himalayan battle.

Qi appeared on Chinese state broadcaster CCTV in December and said he was "ready to return to the battlefield and fight again". All this came as a report revealed that China is hiding its losses in the Galwan Valley clash with India in June 2020. 

The new research has shown that the People`s Liberation Army (PLA) lost at least nine times more soldiers than its official count of four. At least 38 PLA troops drowned while crossing a fast-flowing, sub-zero river in darkness, according to an article in the Australian newspaper ‘The Klaxon’ which cited a report prepared by a group of social media researchers after a year-long investigation.

Of the four soldiers that China has confirmed died, only one of them - Junior Sergeant Wang Zhuoran - is reported as having drowned, the investigative newspaper said. 

The report cited "several Weibo users" and said, "at least 38 PLA troops along with Wang were washed away and drowned that night...of which only Wang was declared among the four officially dead soldiers." 

The report cited a year-long investigation involving discussions with mainland Chinese bloggers, information obtained from mainland-based Chinese citizens and media reports that have since been deleted by Chinese authorities.

The border standoff in eastern Ladakh erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake area and both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.

As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process in Gogra as well as in the north and south banks of the Pangong lake last year. Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control in the sensitive sector.

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