Defence

Borders are at the heart of Xi Jinping’s ‘new era’

By The Print

I would rather sacrifice my life than lose an inch of my land,” People’s Liberation Army commander Qi Fabao said at a gathering of the Chinese Communist Party’s celebration of its 100th anniversary. Fabao, according to Chinese claims, was one of the PLA soldiers who had survived the Galwan clash with the Indian Army in Ladakh in June 2020.

Although the event was political, the tenor was overpowered by the focus on defending borders. The Political Work Department of the Central Military Commission held a special meeting on the “deeds of the heroes defending the country and guarding the border in the new era”.

At the event, the documentary film Behind Us Is the Motherland was shown. The documentary was released in February 2021 when China finally acknowledged casualties in the Galwan clash, saying four PLA soldiers had been killed. The Indian Army had acknowledged the death of 20 soldiers. Experts have questioned China’s death toll, indicating it could be much higher.

The event’s highlight was Qi Fabao, who was hailed as a “hero”. The hashtag “Chief Qi Fabao talks about frontier guards’ dedication to the country” trended on Twitter-like Chinese social media platform, Weibo. The hashtag was viewed 4.14 million times. The fact that the four soldiers who died in the clash were ‘young’ was repeatedly highlighted on Chinese social media.

The four soldiers and Fabao have been dubbed as the “hero group”. The group was awarded the “Chinese Youth May Fourth Medal” by the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League and the All-China Youth Federation on Youth Day, held every year to commemorate the May Fourth Movement of 1919.

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