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China jails blogger for suggesting the official death toll was wrong in border clashes

Qiu Ziming, with more than 2.5 million followers on China’s twitter-like Weibo.

Image: Shutterstock/Samuel Borges Photography

CHINA HAS JAILED a popular blogger for “defaming martyrs” after he suggested the death toll of the China-India border clash last year was higher than the official count of four.

Qiu Ziming, with more than 2.5 million followers on China’s twitter-like Weibo, was sentenced to eight months in prison, the court in the eastern city of Nanjing announced Tuesday.

He is the first person to be jailed under a new provision of China’s criminal law that bans the “defamation of martyrs and heroes”.

After months of silence, the Chinese military in February said four soldiers were killed in a skirmish with Indian troops in the disputed Galwan Valley last June.

It was the worst border conflict between China and India in decades.

The dead were posthumously honoured as “border-defending heroes.”

In social media posts, Qiu had suggested that the actual death toll might have been higher than the official count.

He also said that a commanding officer survived “because he was the highest-ranking officer there” — a comment that irked officials.

Qiu had “infringed on the reputation and honour of heroes and martyrs…and confessed to his crimes,” the court verdict said.

The 38-year-old was detained in February and Weibo banned his social media handle “Crayon Ball.”

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Since February, police have arrested at least six bloggers for allegedly defaming the dead soldiers in online comments, highlighting the political sensitivity of the border clash.

Beijing passed a law in 2018 that made a civil offence of “defamation of martyrs and heroes”, including war-time heroes idolised in Communist Party history and modern-day figures such as fallen firefighters and soldiers.

It was made a criminal offence in February.

 © AFP 2021

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