Chinese scribe charged under new law for Galwan comments

Qiu Ziming had questioned government account of the clash.

A Chinese investigative journalist and blogger on Monday became the first person charged under a new criminal law banning the “defaming of martyrs”, for his comments questioning the government’s account of the clash with India in Galwan Valley last year.

Qiu Ziming (38), an investigative journalist formerly with The Economic Observer, was arrested on February 20 in Nanjing, where he lives, after raising questions a day after China’s announcement declaring honours for five soldiers, including four awarded posthumously, eight months after the June 15, 2020 clash.

In messages to his 2.5 million followers on the Chinese Twitter-equivalent, Sina Weibo, Mr. Qiu suggested the fatalities would have been higher because as per the official account, some of the soldiers died coming to the aid of troops in difficulty, who, in his view, would have suffered losses as well. Mr. Qiu also asked why India had, in contrast, promptly recognised the 20 Indian soldiers who died, which, he suggested, meant that “in India’s view they won and paid a lesser price”. His account on Weibo was subsequently suspended.

On Monday, Mr. Qiu was charged “for violating the law on defaming martyrs’ honour and reputation”. According to State media, this was the first reported case of anyone being charged under the law, which calls for a fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years. While China had in 2018 passed a law banning people from insulting martyrs, the civil law was added as an amendment to China’s criminal law which took effect on March 1.

At least 7 detained

This was among 22 new clauses added to the law, the Communist Party-run Global Times reported, with others relating to attacks on police officers and acts disturbing public transportation.

Mr. Qiu is among at least seven people who have been detained by police in China for “smearing” the military since the February 19 announcement honouring the five Chinese soldiers.

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