India-China dispute: 43 Chinese soldiers killed? Media outlets and journalists mislead

On June 16, the ongoing border dispute between India and China took a critically violent turn as the Indian side reported the death of 20 soldiers in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.

Soon after, the news of “43 Chinese troops killed” in the face-off began doing the rounds. This was tweeted by DD News which credited the information to “agency reports”.

Hindi media outlets Navjivan, India TV and ABP News claimed the same.

Several others – Major Gaurav Arya, India TV anchors Rajat Sharma and Sushant Sinha, ABP News journalist Sumit Awasthi, NewsX anchor Shehzad Poonawalla – also jumped on the bandwagon.

A Twitter handle News Line IFE cited Gaurav Arya as the source and put out a tweet with the same claim. In an earlier Alt News Fact Check, News Line IFE was found to be the source of the unverified claim that five Chinese soldiers were killed in the clashes.

OpIndia, its editor Nupur Sharma and Twitter user The Skin Doctor also promoted the ‘news’ of 43 Chinese soldiers killed.

India Today anchor Rajdeep Sardesai wrote that ANI claimed based on “Chinese intercepts” that “43 Chinese soldiers [were] killed in the clashes”. He further wrote that there hasn’t been any confirmation from the Chinese side.

National Spokesperson of VHP Vijay Shankar Tiwari wrote, “43 चीनी सैनिक भी मारे गए (43 Chinese soldiers were also killed).”

Fact-check

The claim was based on news agency ANI’s tweet which quoted “sources” and claimed that the Chinese have suffered 43 casualties, including the dead and injured.

Editor of ANI live services Ishaan Prakash quoted tweeted ANI and wrote, “First confirmation of numbers of injured/dead in the Chinese side”, which is the meaning of the word ‘casualties’.

It is to be noted that ANI did not give an exact figure on the number of Chinese soldiers who died but wrote that the number “43” includes both killed and wounded.

What do the official figures state?

The Chinese government has not revealed the number of casualties on their side. The Editor-in-Chief of China-based Global Times tweeted this earlier today. Furthermore, no official figures on the Chinese casualties have been put out by the Indian army as well.

Defence journalist Shiv Aroor tweeted, “NO official word on Chinese casualty figures, all leaks/source stuff doing rounds.”

Deputy Editor at The Indian Express Sushant Singh similarly tweeted that there has been no official army statement on the number of Chinese casualties, “43 or 430 or whatever”.

Therefore, ANI’s tweet on alleged casualties on the Chinese side, both dead and injured, was misrepresented by many as “43 Chinese soldiers killed” in the skirmish. It is also noteworthy that neither the Chinese side nor any prominent Indian defence journalist has confirmed the number of casualties in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

[Update: The copy earlier claimed that Rajdeep Sardesai claimed that 43 Indian soldiers were killed. The error has been corrected.]
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