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Chinese citizens raved about the Galwan Valley on Weibo, the sweet exchange between the Indian army and the PLA on Baidu

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IIn this week’s Chinascope we look at the People’s Liberation Army hoisting a flag in the Galwan Valley, China naming 15 locations in Arunachal Pradesh, the Covid-19 lockdown in Xi’an, China’s growing surveillance on Twitter, and other leading stories from China – and the world.

China later this week

Chinascope starts the new year with an action-packed edition.

Tensions between Beijing and New Delhi continue into the New Year after a Chinese flag was hoisted in the Galwan Valley. The news became a major social media trend in China. The timing of the ceremony is important as China’s new land border law went into effect on January 1st. The new law will steadfastly enforce China’s sovereignty and establish more villages in border areas.

The video of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers sending a New Year’s message to India and hoisting a Chinese flag in the Galwan Valley was originally shared on the Chinese social media platform Weibo at 11:35 a.m. Beijing time. Shen Shiwei, a state media journalist, tweeted that the flag hoisted in Galwan was “special” because it was hoisted over Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

The search trend “Heroes of the Galwan Valley send New Year’s greetings” was the second top trend of the search engine Baidu. When the video was shared, a hashtag “Galwan Valley Heroes Happy New Year” started trending on Weibo. It was viewed 2.24 million times and kept growing.

The video was subsequently shared by other Chinese state media organizations, including the official Xinhua News Agency. The video shows a flag-raising ceremony and soldiers shout slogans wishing everyone a Happy New Year. “We promise the motherland that we will guard the border,” added PLA soldiers in their message.

The message used in the video suggests that the video was intended for the domestic audience. Beijing wanted New Delhi to know that the border dispute is far from over. The PLA has used the exact location in the past for similar types of symbolic ceremonies.

The clip also contained a narration of old footage of the Galwan clash in June 2020 that state media has used in the past.

On the same day, the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army exchanged sweets and other gifts in Hot Springs and Demchok in eastern Ladakh, and in Nathula and Kongra La in northern Sikkim. On Sunday the story of the trending candy exchange on Baidu began. The hashtag “Chinese and Indian soldiers exchange greetings and sweets at the border” was the fifth top search trend on the platform and was viewed 4.5 million times.

Also read: This Nagaland hashtag was trending on Weibo. And Xi wants China’s religions to follow the CCP first

Meanwhile, the Indian Ministry of Defense announced that the Indian Armed Forces have been reorganized and realigned along the Line of Effective Control (LAC) in response to the People’s Liberation Army building infrastructure.

“The forces in areas where the withdrawal has not yet taken place have been appropriately increased. Threat assessments and internal consultations have led to a reorganization and realignment of the armed forces in line with the army’s mandate to ensure territorial integrity and to significantly increase the armed forces and military infrastructure of the People’s Liberation Army, “the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

As if the video of Chinese soldiers hoisting a flag wasn’t enough, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs issued a notice last week regarding the use of the “correct” place name for 15 locations in Arunachal Pradesh.

Of the 15 locations, eight are residential areas, four mountains, two rivers and the well-known Sela Pass in Arunachal Pradesh. China calls Arunachal Pradesh “southern Tibet”.

“In accordance with the relevant regulations of the State Council on the management of geographical names, our ministry and relevant departments have standardized some geographical names in southern Tibet. The second batch of publicly used place names in southern Tibet (15 in total) is now officially announced, ”the ministry said in a statement.

As expected, Narendra Modi’s government was not pleased with the names given to the places in Arunachal Pradesh.

“Arunachal Pradesh has always been and always will be an integral part of India. The assignment of made-up names to places in Arunachal Pradesh does not change that, ”replied the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Both countries are also seeing an increase in Covid-19 cases.

China’s “zero covid” policy has come into effect in the city of Xi’an in Shaanxi Province. Over 13 million residents of Xi’an are under strict lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19 variants after a cluster of cases was discovered. Since the latest wave of infections began on December 9, the city has reported 1,451 cases of Covid-19.

Chinese social media shared bizarre scenes in Xi’an where people were publicly shamed for violating Covid-19 restrictions.

Chinese officials have admitted that they are having a hard time delivering food to the people of Xi’an. All residents were told that they would receive food. Officials have asked major e-commerce companies like JD.com and Meituan to stabilize grocery prices after residents complained about the premium.

In terms of strict restrictions, China has again successfully taken action against another news organization that has violated its will.

Until recently, media freedom in Hong Kong was considered a beacon in East Asia. Beijing immediately used the National Security Act to stop any form of critical reporting.

Last week, Hong Kong’s National Security Police raided the offices of Stand News – an independent news agency. The organization ceased operations after its $ 78 million assets were frozen by the Hong Kong authorities. Stand News was one of the most dynamic news outlets covering the 2019 Hong Kong protest movement in detail. The former editors of Stand News were charged under a sedition law and were not given bail. Stand News has ceased operations.

Also read: Xi Jinping wants Chinese artists and writers to practice “morality”. And a great editor gives up

China on the world news

Taiwan is not only a point of contention between Beijing and Washington DC, but Tokyo too.

China and Japan will set up a military hotline to “defuse potential crises around disputed islands and the Taiwan Strait,” Japanese officials said.

The agreement to set up the hotline was reached during a two-hour phone call between Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe.

Virtually, the steady increase in the use of Twitter by Chinese citizens versus VPNs has worried Beijing over the past two years. Now we have heard of Beijing’s mission to monitor Twitter and Facebook for anti-CCP content.

The New York Times revealed the existence of sophisticated software used by Beijing to track comments from a Chinese student in Australia. Chinese police called the student’s father, videotaped it, and reported it to the NYT. As a Chinese citizen, simply posting a message like “I stand by Hong Kong” could get you in trouble.

Another related research by the Washington Post has confirmed the existence of software to collect domestic data and “data on foreign destinations from sources such as Twitter, Facebook and other Western social media.” The Washington Post analyzed the tenders showing the development of a network of state media companies developing opinion monitoring systems for the Chinese state.

The state-run Chinese Global Times Online was awarded a three-year contract valued at US $ 531,000 for the provision of a “China-related opinion-monitoring system for foreign media and journalists”.

“Now we can better understand the underground network of anti-Chinese workers,” an analyst with the Beijing-based opinion watch unit told the Washington Post.

The implication for anyone on Twitter, Facebook, or any other platform is that Big Brother in Beijing is watching you.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s “brotherly” romance with Beijing has been on the news lately. Musk even said that “I may be partially Chinese”.

Last week Beijing complained to the United Nations Space Agency that Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites were on a collision course with the Chinese space station.

Also read: The historic Chinese resolution whitewashes Mao’s legacy and focuses on Xi Jinping

What to read this week

And then there were five – David Bandurski

China’s reform generation adapts to life in the middle class – Peter Hessler

Podworld

For this week, Chinascope recommends listening to a podcast episode with Marco Polo’s Damien Ma about forecasting the real estate market in China and the things you might want to watch before the 20th National Party Congress later this year.

The author is a columnist and freelance journalist and is currently completing an MSc in international politics with a focus on China at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). He was previously a Chinese media journalist for the BBC World Service. He tweeted @aadilbrar. Views are personal.

This is a weekly recap that Aadil Brar writes about what is buzzing in China. This will be available shortly as a subscription-only product.

(Edited by Srinjoy Dey)

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