The military stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control escalated on the night of June 15, leading to the death of at least 20 soldiers of the Indian army. While both sides have blamed the other for provocation, speculation about the number of Chinese casualties are on a rise.
Some journalists and media organisations initially claimed that five soldiers of China’s People’s Liberation Army had been killed and 11 were injured. The figure was unverified. It was subsequently claimed that 43 Chinese troops had been killed in the clash. This too was misleading.
On June 17, the Times Now television channel announced another figure as “breaking news”. “China accepts 30 soldiers have been killed during the Ladakh standoff,” it said, citing China-based Global Times as the source. The tweets were later taken down.
Times Now also aired a broadcast during which anchors Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar read out 30 names of Chinese soldiers who allegedly died. This can be watched from 4.30 minutes. Curiously, in the end, Kumar said, “Even this list put out by Global Times could be a fake forward.”
Social media message
A widely circulating claim across Facebook and Twitter suggested, “A spokesperson for the Western Theatre Command that oversees defences of #China’s border with India has released the names of 30 Chinese troops killed by Indian action.” These were the same names read out by the Times Now anchors.
Among those who tweeted the message was retired major general GD Bakshi, a frequent panellist on Times Now.
This is the complete message shared by several other users on Twitter.
The message, which also cites Global Times as the source, shares a link to the website chinanews.com. Times Now’s broadcast was aired at around 6.40 pm while the channel tweeted the claim at 6.49 pm. Alt News received a query on WhatsApp about the authenticity of the message at 5.43 pm.
The message was circulating on Twitter well before Times Now’s tweet.
The link to chinanews.com leads to the website’s homepage and not a report. In several previous instances too, Alt News has debunked elaborate forwarded messages that carry a link to the homepage of news websites to give the message an illusion of credibility.
A search on the Twitter page and website of Global Times shows that the organisation has not published any figure of Chinese casualties. The last two tweets (1, 2) by Global Times talk about the dispute are related to the telephonic conversation between Indian foreign minister and his Chinese counterpart. The names of the Chinese soldiers claimed to have been killed in the clash are also not found on the website.
At the time this article was written, Beijing had not released the number of casualties, dead or injured. This was tweeted by the editor-in-chief of Global Times Hu Xijin on June 16.
he only numbers floating right now are “43 casualties” reported by ANI based on “sources” and “35 casualties” quoted by “US intelligence sources” according to a website called usnews.com. However, no prominent defence reporter confirmed these figures nor have the governments of either country released an official number on Chinese casualties.
This article first appeared on AltNews.