Chinese blogger Qiu Ziming has been sentenced to eight months in jail for allegedly “defaming martyrs” through his social media posts on the skirmish between the country’s troops and those of India in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley in June last year, Global Times reported.

Qiu, popularly known as “Labixiaoqiu” online, has also been ordered to publicly apologise through major domestic portals and the national media within 10 days to “eliminate the negative impact”, according to the Chinese state-controlled newspaper.

In February this year, months after the clash took place, China had named four soldiers who died, and another, who was injured.

On his account on China’s Twitter-like platform, Weibo, Qiu had suggested that the toll on the Chinese side due to the clash was higher than the officially announced four, AFP reported. He was arrested on February 20, a day after he put up the social media post and was charged for violating a law on defaming martyrs’ honor and reputation.

However, the Global Times report did not mention the specifics of the crime he allegedly committed. This was the first reported case of a suspect being charged with defaming martyrs after China’s top legislature added relevant clauses to the Criminal Law. The blogger reportedly had more than 25 lakh followers before his arrest in February, following which his account was cancelled.

On March 1, Qiu had issued a public apology on the matter while appearing on China’s state broadcaster CCTV. “I feel extremely ashamed of myself, and I’m very sorry,” he said. “My behavior was an annihilation of conscience.”

Galwan Valley clash

Both India and China blame each other for the confrontation in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control, which was the deadliest in 45 years. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the hand-to-hand combat with clubs, stones and fists. While Beijing had acknowledged casualties, it had not disclosed details till February 2020.

The dispute sparked off a tensed standoff between the two countries, with both sides bolstering forces along their sides of the border for months. The disengagement process along Pangong Tso in Ladakh began on February 10 after military commanders began pulling out troops, tanks and artillery from the area in the first step towards full withdrawal.