A blogger has been jailed for eight months for making comments considered slanderous and derogatory about Chinese soldiers who had died fighting Indian troops at Galwan Valley in June last year.
Qiu Ziming, 38, has been charged with “slandering martyrs and heroes” and is the first person to be jailed under amended laws dealing with defaming People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers under China’s criminal law.
Qiu, an internet celebrity with 2.5 million followers on microblogging site Weibo, had posted a comment in February seen by the government as offensive, months after the Galwan Valley clash that left 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers dead.
Qiu has been charged with commenting negatively on the four Chinese soldiers who died on the same day that China released the casualty figures for the first time since the June 16 clash.
“Qiu, known as ‘Labixiaoqiu’ online, was also ordered to publicly apologise through major domestic portals and the national media within 10 days to eliminate the negative impact, a court in Nanjing, eastern China’s Jiangsu province ruled,” the state-run tabloid, Global Times, reported.
Newly-amended laws carry a maximum sentence of three years in jail, but Qui got a lighter punishment because, according to the court, he had truthfully confessed to his crime, entered a guilty plea and said in court that he won’t commit the crime again.
“He was detained a day later for stirring up trouble that brought about a severe negative social impact. Qiu’s Weibo account was also suspended,” the Global Times report said.
On March 1, Qiu publicly apologised for the post during a prime-time national news broadcast on China’s state broadcaster, CCTV.
“I feel extremely ashamed of myself, and I’m very sorry,” Qiu had said. “My behaviour was an annihilation of conscience.”
China has been sensitive about comments perceived to be slanderous about the four PLA soldiers who died and one who was injured in the Galwan Valley clash.
At least eight persons in China have so far been arrested, detained or have had proceedings initiated against them for insulting “PLA heroes and martyrs” online.
Last week, a permanent resident of the US, Wang Jingyu, 19, wanted by China under similar charges, was freed by Dubai and boarded a flight to Turkey after spending weeks in detention.
Beijing, according to The Associated Press, had sought Wang over his comments on the deadly clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers.
Wang, a resident of Chongqing city, had questioned on social media why the Chinese government waited six months to release information about PLA casualty figures, sparking a harassment campaign that saw him flee to Istanbul, the AP report said.