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China jails bloggers for countering the official narrative of clash with India

Locked up for dissent.
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The police in China have arrested three bloggers for posting what the authorities said were insults and smears against Chinese soldiers who died during the June clash with Indian troops in the Himalayas.

According to a report in the state-owned Global Times, two people were detained first, with the third arrest following on Sunday. This was a 25-year-old man whose last name is Yang who was taken into custody on Sunday in the Sichuan province, apparently after other internet users reported him to the police, which published a notice about the arrests on its official WeChat account.

One of the other two arrests appear to have happened a day before, when a 28-old called Chen was detained for the same reason – these bloggers were found to be insulting the memory of the Chinese soldiers – referred to in the Global Times article as “martyrs” – who died in the Galwan Valley border clash. However, as reports observe, the official announcement was short on detail when it comes to what these bloggers actually said.

The law criminalizing any “slandering” precisely of those declared to be China’s martyrs and heroes dates back to May 2018, and it was cited as the legal grounds for the arrests. Yang is said to have confessed “under social pressure” and was sentenced to seven days in jail.

The language used to justify the censorship based on this and other rules might sound chilling to some in the West, too: “What the party decides to be true can no longer be challenged,” was one way the law was described back in 2018, while some of the first people targeted under it had committed “crimes” such as satire and “hate speech.”

The media in India, meanwhile, shed some light on the reasons why some internet users are being prosecuted in China for posts about the Galwan Valley clash casualties.

WION News is reporting that one of the three detained bloggers, investigative journalist Ziming Iu, went to China’s giant platform Weibo to express his doubts about the officially announced number of Chinese casualties. Ziming reportedly wrote that the Indian side may be right in thinking that China lost more than the 20 troops that Beijing admits had perished in the fighting.

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