‘Torchbearers broadly representative, meet the selection standards’
Beijing, Feb 7 (PTI): Amid widespread criticism over its move to field a PLA soldier involved in the border clash with Indian soldiers at the Galwan Valley in 2020 as a torchbearer for the Winter Olympics, China said on Monday that his selection met the ‘standards’ to pick up participants for the event and asked the relevant parties to refrain from making ‘politicised interpretation’.
China in a provocative move fielded Qi Fabao, the regimental commander of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), who was injured during the June 2020 clash in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, as a torchbearer for the Olympics Games Torch Relay, which led India to diplomatically boycott the opening ceremony of the games on Friday.
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 on Monday whether fielding Qi in the torch relay went against China’s view that Olympics should build bridges, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, “The torchbearers of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are broadly representative and meet the selection standards”.
“We hope relevant parties will view this in an objective and rational manner,” he said.
To a follow-up question whether the move ignored India’s sensitivities, Zhao said, “what I want to say is that we hope relevant parties can view the torchbearers in an objective and rational way and refrain from making politicised interpretation”.
On Thursday, MEA spokesperson Bagchi said that China has chosen to ‘politicise’ an event like the Olympics and that the Charge d’Affaires of the Indian embassy in Beijing will not be attending the opening and the closing ceremonies of the Beijing Winter Games.
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.
In February last year, China officially acknowledged that five Chinese military officers and soldiers were killed in the Galwan clashes with the Indian Army though it is widely believed that the death toll was higher.
The diplomats of the US, European Union and several western countries boycotted the opening ceremony.