India-China border skirmish explained

Timeline of events in Galwan Valley and how media & netizens reacted

Welcome back to Rayaan Writer Newsletter!

In the last few days, the India-China border skirmish has been widely discussed. The crisis comes at a time when our nation is already facing pandemic and economic issues. I piece out the timeline of major events that led to clashes in Galwan Valley.

The Land of Dispute

(Representative Image from Pexel)

On June 15, twenty Indian soldiers were martyred in a clash with the Chinese army. It was considered the worst attack to our borders in recent times. A few days after the clash, the Chinese army released ten Indian soldiers from their custody.

Once news broke out, the common question people had in mind was, "Why are we fighting with China?".

"One must note that India and China have differing perceptions of the LAC (Line of Actual Control). While they agree on the alignment of the line in some areas, they don’t in others," the report said.

Explaining the graphic shown above, the report noted, "If one of the sides blocks access to a grey area to the other side, it amounts to a change in the status quo on the ground — the blocking side gets exclusive control of the grey area in question while the other side can’t send in patrols."

To sum up, in a nutshell, the report said that India was aiming to change the status quo in the Galwan valley as China had entered a space that has always been under Indian army's patrolling zone.

As news readers, it is necessary to assess a situation in entirety and read essential background information.

It is also worth mentioning China's growing aggression not just with India but also to its other neighbours.

  • "Is China Eyeing New World Order?" in The Hindustan Times predicts, "China’s actions show that it could be aiming to reshape the world order in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic."

How did Indians react?

(Representative Image from Pexel)

Digital patriotism

After the clashes, social media turned into a digital war zone as a few reputed journalists sought answers from the Modi government while thousands of pro-BJP netizens shared posts with nationalists tone.

However, it took a comical turn when a Twitter user "posted two photographs showing how her mother responded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call – during his live address 24 hours after the Galwan clash – to stand and observe silence for Indian soldiers".

(Screenshots of the same tweet shared by multiple users)

  • "Within hours, several Twitter users had copied the tweet – photos included – and tweeted it verbatim, as if it was their own mother who had stood up in response to the prime minister’s speech," The Wire said in a report.

(Image from Boom Live)

Similarly, fact-checking media house, BOOM Live, "observed a number of viral tweets by parody accounts of world leaders, where they lent their support to India."

No To China

(Representative Image of Beijing, China from Pexel)

Soon began a call for solidarity for the Indian Army, albeit with eye-rolling demand.

  • The Times of India reported, "'Restaurants selling Chinese food should be banned. I appeal to people to boycott Chinese food,' Union Minister Ramdas Athawale was quoted as saying by a news agency."

(Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of Alt News, responds on Twitter)

Likewise, there were calls for economic sanctions against China.

  • The Guardian reported, "The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which represents over 60 million Indian traders, stated it would be stepping up its anti-China boycott.”

Yet, it is interesting to note that despite calls for banning of Chinese Products across social media, Chinese smartphones continued to be sold like hotcakes.

  • In a report by Quartz India, "OnePlus 8 Pro, which was launched in India on June 18, was sold out within minutes on Amazon India… This has been the standard response to new devices of Chinese brands like Xiaomi, Vivo, and Realme in India for years now."

However, business experts warn that if our nation takes a move of economic warfare against China, then India would suffer more.

  • The Indian Express in "Why China trade ban will hurt India more" detailed six reasons and noted that trade deficits are not necessarily bad, that the ban will affect India's poor and would barely hit China.

Media War Room

(Representative Image from Pexel)

As the crisis unfolded, major media houses turned into a battlefield, calling for the boycott of Chinese products while some speculated how many Chinese soldiers have died.

  • Times Now channel aired a programme where the anchors read out a fake WhatsApp message that supposedly shows the names of Chinese soldiers killed during the clash.

The Mother Of All Twists

(Representative graphic from CNN)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was nowhere to be seen after the clash as it took over 24 hours for the Modi government to respond and comment regarding the skirmish.

  • According to a report by The Wire, "The Union government has been tight-lipped on the escalating situation between China and India since April".

Things took a U-turn during Mr Modi’s all-party meeting to discuss the violence.

“Na koi wahan hamari seema mein ghus aaya hai aur nahi koi ghusa hua hai, na hi hamari koi post kisi dusre ke kabze mein hain (No one has intruded and nor is anyone intruding, nor has any post been captured by someone)”, Mr Modi said.

The remarks created an uproar with the opposition party, especially the Congress, and even drew flak among Indian Army veterans. It contradicted the earlier statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs.

  • "Former national security advisor Shivshankar Menon expressed his puzzlement over the prime minister’s choice of words, calling it “an ill-considered and inaccurate statement that concedes territory and the gains of aggression.” “If this is so”, he added, “why and where were our soldiers killed?”" The Wire reported.

Ajai Shukla, a strategic affairs analyst and former Indian Army officer, wrote a series of Tweets asking if the Prime Minister had redrawn the Sino-Indian border.

(Ajai Shukla's Tweet)

Later, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) issued a statement saying, "Attempts are being made in some quarters to give a mischievous interpretation to remarks by the Prime Minister at the All-Party Meeting (APM) yesterday” to which The Wire reported, "However, the PMO clarification is likely to add to the confusion that Modi and the government have spread by their use of vague and imprecise phrases."

  • The Telegraph quoted Former Indian foreign secretary and China expert Nirupama Menon Rao: “It’s important for the government to provide a clear and coherent message to the public and the various media platforms so that unnecessary speculation and false or misleading narratives are avoided. This is especially so since vital national interests are at stake here.’”

After the all-party meeting speech, Mr Modi was lauded by the Chinese media who said that his comments will favour in bringing down tensions among the nations.

  • It is worth mentioning an analysis by The Indian Express which said: “While in opposition, BJP cornered, questioned UPA government on China; sent teams to border. Between 2004 and 2014, the BJP had issued political resolutions, sought a white paper, sent its own delegation to the border, and held several press conferences criticising the then Manmohan Singh government.”

A few hours after Mr Modi’s speech, the Chinese government claimed sovereignty over entire Galwan Valley.

At the time of filing this newsletter on June 25, China once again claimed sovereignty over Galwan Valley while satellite images show the ever-growing presence of the Chinese army in the disputed region. And another shocking move is "the part where Modi said that no one had entered Indian territory appears to have been removed from the PMO's official YouTube channel".

Bam! This marks the end of today’s newsletter.

See you soon! Stay home, stay safe, wash your hands, and spread love.

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