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Galwan Valley Olympic torch angers India into diplomatic boycott of Beijing events

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(TibetanReview.net, Feb04’22) – In protest against China’s propaganda torch-parading of the Galwan Valley border dispute between the two countries at the Beijing Winter Olympics, India has decided not to send its top diplomat in Beijing to the event’s Opening Ceremony today. New Delhi had previously decided not to send any government minister to the Games.

Also, India’s public television broadcaster, Doordarshan, announced late Feb 3 evening that it would not broadcast the opening or closing ceremonies.

Beijing’s move to pick Col. Qi Fabao, a People’s Liberation Army regimental commander who was seriously wounded in the Jun 15-16 night clash in 2020 between Indian and Chinese border troops, as an Olympic torchbearer riled up New Delhi’s anger, noted the AP Feb 3. China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper showed Qi on Feb 2 jogging while holding the torch, drawing criticism from India’s former diplomats and defense experts, the report added.

India’s foreign ministry said it was “regrettable that the Chinese side has chosen to politicize an event like the Olympics”.

“I wish to inform that the Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of India in Beijing will not be attending the opening or the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics,” indiatoday.in Feb 3 quoted India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi as saying.

Earlier, in Nov 2021, India joined Russia to express support for the Beijing Games during the BRICS summit — a meeting of large emerging economies – the AP report noted.

India’s anger stems from the fact that it was Chinese troops which made a cross border incursion, resulting in the clash and death of 20 of its soldiers. Beijing, which belatedly admitted only four deaths on its side, blamed India for the clash. It is now estimated, based on online research and intelligence reports, that up to 45 Chinese soldiers died in that fateful night clash. Of them, at least 38 were estimated to have drowned in the icy cold river whereas China said only one of its four dead had drowned.

As regards what exactly caused the clash, a report prepared by a group of social media researchers after a year-long investigation published by the Australian newspaper The Klaxon said that Indian troops went to a disputed area in Galwan Valley on the night of June 15 to remove a Chinese encroachment. They were met by China’s Col Qi Fabao and 150 Chinese soldiers who formed a battle formation instead of discussing the issue with the Indian troops.

China has clamped down on and punished its citizens who questioned its version of the Galwan Valley clash while heaping praises on the supposed heroism of its severely altitude-challenged soldiers. And it made Col. Qi a national role model. He was conferred the title of “hero regiment commander for defending the border” last year.

India is, however, still participating in the games. Its sole sportsperson at the Winter Olympics, Arif Khan, is a skier from Kashmir, and he is reportedly taking part in the opening ceremony, the report said.

“It’s a diplomatic boycott, and not an athlete boycott,” he was quoted as saying by the Indian magazine Outlook on Feb 4.

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