China has condemned a famous blogger accused of “defaming the martyrs” after suggesting that the death toll on the Chinese side in the border dispute with India last year was higher than the four officially announced. Qiu Ziming, 38, who has more than 2.5 million followers on Weibo, a kind of local Twitter, was sentenced to eight months in prison, the Nanjing City Court said.
On the social network, he hinted that the real death toll could be higher than that disclosed by the regime. Now, with this conviction, Qiu has become the first person to be arrested under a new provision in Chinese criminal law that prohibits “defamation of martyrs and heroes”.
After months of silence, the Chinese military announced in February that four soldiers had died in a clash with Indian troops in the disputed Galwan Valley in June 2020, a conflict that has historical roots. In 1962, India and China waged a brief but bloody war for control of the region, and for the next two decades they tried to come to an agreement, but negotiations failed.
Although there were eventually fights involving officials from both countries, no one had died at the border since 1967. On the Indian side, 20 deaths were recorded. The dead Chinese soldiers, in turn, were honored posthumously as “frontier heroes”.
Australian accuses China of torture
Also on Tuesday, the Chinese regime denied accusations of torture against an Australian scholar of Chinese origin on trial for espionage. “Yang Jun was not arbitrarily detained or tortured to obtain a confession,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters.
Chinese-born Yang Jun, a 56-year-old student who identifies himself as Yang Hengjun, said he was tortured while being held in a secret location. “The first six months […] it was a really difficult time. They tortured me, “he said in a message seen by the AFP news agency.
“I was held in a place worse than prison for over two years,” he added.
The trial began last Thursday, behind closed doors, which prevented the Australian ambassador to Beijing from attending the hearing. Yang claims to be innocent, was never told who he was spying on and that he tried unsuccessfully to disregard the tapes of his interrogation as he was allegedly forced to confess on a hidden camera.
Yang left mainland China in 1992 and moved to Hong Kong. Then he traveled to the United States, where he lived for five years and worked for the Atlantic Council group. Years later, he became an Australian citizen and devoted himself to writing spy novels and maintaining a very popular Chinese blog.