China jails blogger who 'slandered' dead in India border clash

A Chinese court has jailed a popular blogger over posts suggesting the death toll among Chinese soldiers in a China-Indian border clash last year was higher than claimed.

Qiu Ziming was among at least six people arrested in February for online posts about the Galwan Valley clash between Chinese and Indian troops in a disputed border area. A tense standoff that began in May escalated to shouting matches, stone-throwing and fistfights, before culminating on 15 June into a violent bout of hand-to-hand combat with clubs and stones, leaving dozens dead.

Indian authorities said at least 20 soldiers died, but China did not officially confirm any deaths from its side until the bestowing of posthumous honours on four soldiers in February.

Qiu, who had more than 2.5 million followers on Weibo, had suggested in blogposts that the actual count might be higher than the official tally, and that a commanding officer survived “because he was the highest-ranking officer there” – a comment that irked officials.

On Tuesday, he was sentenced to eight months in jails under a 2018 law outlawing the defamation of “heroes and martyrs”. He is the first person to be sent to prison under the law, which was amended earlier this year to allow jail terms of up to three years as penalty.

Qiu had “infringed on the reputation and honour of heroes and martyrs … and confessed to his crimes”, the court verdict said.