Anguish slips through Chinese censors on PLA losses

The Chinese soldiers are strictly banned from divulging any information to family or friends. This seems to have resulted in a lot of uncertainty with regards to their whereabouts and well-being.

“I have been concerned about the situation between China and India since yesterday. From the videos and articles of overseas news, what I am most concerned about is our young soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army, whether there are casualties as no specific figures have been announced (India has announced the deaths of 20+ Indian soldiers with photos), our Chinese border guards and soldiers must be very young youths, having concerned parents, (very much in my heart),” read another Weibo post. “We patriots are even more worried about your comforting compatriots in the motherland and hope you are safe. You are the pride of our motherland! Thank you all!”

A few Chinese netizens are uncomfortable with some in the local social-media circles mocking the sacrifice of Indian soldiers.

“In the case of conflict with India, hundreds of soldiers are involved. Even if we have strict discipline and hard training, we are all flesh after all. It is estimated that many of our soldiers too have injuries,” a Chinese netizen wrote. “Looking at those cheering and mocking at the Indian casualties, it makes me feel happy and sad. The families of these fighters must be very nervous now.”

Upon two days after the Galwan Valley clash, the Chinese netizens started getting worried about PLA soldiers.

“Care is not flashy statements. It is about taking care of the needs of the soldiers and improving their training equipment,” read a reply.

Relatives started posting online about their grievances, saying troops in the Ladakh region were not contactable.

“Soldiers and their families need to be taken care of well. The families will be very worried,” said a note in Weibo thread.

“Very worried about the soldiers. No information on their well being. Families are very worried,” read another.

Some posts slammed China’s suppression of information and the country’s domestic media for revealing too little about the situation.

“Just want to understand why the casualties of the People’s Liberation Army are not released but they are expected to sacrifice their lives for protection of the nation? Come on, China only play tricks on the outside and suppresses opinions on the inside,” a Weibo handle read.

“The key is now who can believe and who will believe in the Chinese media. There is too much falsehood, and there is really not much credibility left. Whatever the domestic media is doing now is what foreign media outlets say,” read another comment.

Keeping Public In the Dark

Predominantly, the exchange of messages on Weibo is all about how the Chinese government and media always keep the people in the dark.

This has been evident even during the Covid-19 breakout.

A Chinese doctor from Wuhan, Li Wenliang, was one of the first to issue the initial warnings about the spread of coronavirus in Wuhan.

He shared the suspicions on a private chat with his medical school graduates.

Rather than looking into the seriousness, Chinese authorities summoned Li and seven other doctors, and accused them of rumour mongering.

When Dr Li died at Wuhan in February after contracting the virus himself, Weibo got flooded with a wave of anger embodied in hashtags “Wuhan government owes Dr Li Wenliang and apology” and “We want freedom of speech”.

Chinese authorities were quick to censor both hashtags and delete critical comments.

Given China’s record in suppressing information, its citizens may have to wait longer for Beijing to disclose the losses from the June 15 incident, unless the establishment takes heed of growing resentment.

“The Chinese government indicated that there were not a lot of casualties and the Chinese casualties were lesser than that of India’s. The Indian public will put pressure on India to react, as there is democracy there,” a Weibo user warned. “If our casualties are greater than those of the Indians, our public opinion will not be conducive for China.”

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