Beijing: Amid widespread criticism over its move to field a PLA soldier involved in the border clash with Indian troops at the Galwan Valley in 2020 as a torchbearer for the Winter Olympics, China said Monday that his selection met the ‘standards’ to pick up participants for the event and it should be viewed in an ‘objective and rational light’.
China in a provocative move fielded Qi Fabao, the regimental commander of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The soldier was injured during the June 2020 clash in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh. He was selected as a torchbearer for the Olympics Games Torch Relay, which led India to diplomatically boycott Friday the opening ceremony of the Games.
In New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had described the Chinese action of honouring the commander as ‘regrettable’.
Top US lawmakers have also described the Chinese move as ‘shameful’ and ‘deliberately provocative’. Republican Senator Jim Risch, a Ranking Member of the powerful US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also said that the US will continue to support the sovereignty of India.
Asked at a media briefing here whether fielding Qi in the torch relay went against China’s view that Olympics should build bridges, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, “I want to stress that the torchbearers of the Beijing Winter Olympics are broadly representative and they meet relevant standards. We hope relevant sides can view it in an objective and rational light.”
To a follow-up question whether the move ignored India’s sensitivities, Zhao said, “What I want to say is the relevant sides can view the choice of the torchbearers in objective and rational light and don’t read too much into it from a political perspective.”
Twenty Indian Army personnel laid down their lives in the Galwan clashes that marked the most serious military conflicts between India and China in decades.