As tensions escalate between India and China, Beijing is grabbing every opportunity to push propaganda and narratives that suit its position.
On Friday, several Indian media outlets reported that China released ten Indian soldiers from captivity following the Galwan Valley clash. The Hindu reported, “Days after clash, China frees 10 Indian soldiers.”
This was followed by similar reports from several other media outlets- The New Indian Express reported, “10 Army soldiers released by Chinese PLA after three days.”
In fact, almost all other media outlets have carried similar reports. There is no official word from the Indian Army or the Government of India about such reports of China capturing Indian Army troops and releasing them later.
In fact, the Indian Army has stated, “It is clarified that there are no Indian troops missing in action.”
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava also endorsed the Indian Army’s clarification, and said, “This has been clarified by the Army today afternoon that there are no Indian troops missing in action.”
These reports of Indian soldiers being taken captive by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China and being freed later have given adequate fodder to Beijing. And as scheming and conniving as China is, it didn’t really let this opportunity go wasted.
When asked about the reports of Indian soldiers being released from China’s captivity, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said, “As far as I know, China hasn’t seized any Indian personnel presently.”
Lijian made sure that he qualified his remarks with “presently”- the statement is evasive and semantically innuendous.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson deliberately avoided answering the point of substance, that is, the reports of Indian soldiers being held captive and later released by China.
Rather, he has indirectly suggested that though there were no soldiers in Chinese captivity “presently”, they could have been in captivity in the past. With this China is trying to play the big guy which wants to disengage.
Pressure has been building up on China for quite some time over the Coronavirus Pandemic, and it was likely that New Delhi would have launched a diplomatic offensive on Beijing over the Galwan Valley clashes.
The world has sympathised with India over the loss of its bravehearts- Australia, Japan, the United States and Maldives have all joined India in mourning the casualties during the violent face-off.
But now China will most likely play up the reports of capturing Indian soldiers and “releasing them”. This could help Beijing in sidestepping much of the global backlash that it is likely to face.
This is why the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson has not explicitly denied reports of releasing Indian soldiers from captivity.