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Chinese soldier killed at Galwan Valley up for top medal

A Chinese soldier killed fighting Indian troops at Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on June 16 last year has been nominated for a once-in-a-century medal during the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on July 1.

Chen Hongjun, 30, the commander of a motorised infantry battalion under a People Liberation Army (PLA) border defence regiment was among the four Chinese troops killed at Galwan Valley.

The other three were Chen Xiangrong, Xiao Siyuan and Wang Zhuoran, according to the details released by the Chinese government in February this year, several months after the clash.

On Monday, Chinese state media reported that Chen was among the 29 nominated for the July 1 medal.

The list includes Chen, “…a border defence hero who held his post in the plateau for 10 years and died safeguarding China’s territorial integrity against Indian provocation in the Galwan Valley in June 2020,”Global Times said quoting the citation.

India has consistently denied China’s allegation of provoking friction along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, saying the Chinese troops were the first to trespass across the disputed boundary, triggering the face-off and deaths of border troops on both sides including that of 20 Indian soldiers.

Chen’s citation said he is among the CPC members “who have made outstanding contributions and created valuable spiritual wealth, as the CPC marks its 100th founding anniversary this year”.

A total of 29 candidates for the award have been nominated. The list will be put on display and public opinions solicited until June 4 before the final decision is made, the report said. “The list covered candidates from several fields, including war heroes, scientists, community workers, artists, diplomats, pioneers in national unity, educators and police.”

Among those nominated is Wang Shumao, called the “guardian of the South China Sea”, for participating in the construction on the disputed Nansha Islands.

As a member of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, Wang has advocated that China should send more militia missions to “…safeguard territorial sovereignty and the marine rights and interests in the South China Sea (SCS)”.

Beijing claims almost the entire SCS and is locked in dispute with several countries over the ownership of islands in the region.

The July 1 Medal, established by the CPC Central Committee earlier this year, is the highest honour in the party, said Fu Xingguo, deputy head of the CPC Central Committee’s Organisation Department, in March.

This year, the CPC Central Committee will hold a grand gathering to award the medal ahead of July 1, the birthday of the CPC, Fu said.

President Xi Jinping will present the July 1 medal as part of the celebrations to mark CPC’s 100th year.

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