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NEW DELHI: The photograph of a 19-year-old Chinese soldier’s gravestone, circulating on the country’s social media, could be evidence of Chinese casualties in the Galwan Valley clash with India on the intervening night of June 14 and 15.
Defence ministry sources confirmed to TOI on Saturday that the photograph has indeed surfaced on Chinese social media. The sources added that India “already had evidence” that there had been losses on the Chinese side as well in the Galwan clash. “The Indian Army never comments on enemy casualties. It’s because of discontent within PLA that such leaks are happening. As far as we are concerned, we were aware of the casualties,” a defence official said.
The inscription on the gravestone, in Mandarin, says, “Tomb of martyr Chen Xiangrong, soldier of the Unit 69316 of the Southern Xinjiang Military District of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army 13th Regiment. Born in December 2001, from Pingnan county, Fujian province China. Sacrificed in the fight against India’s border defence in June 2020.”
The Southern Xinjiang Military District oversees the territory across the border from Ladakh, which includes Aksai Chin. Right after the clash, which took place south of the Galwan river, the Indian Army had said there had been casualties on both sides — and it had incurred the loss of 20 soldiers. China, however, had not acknowledged any death on its side. Then, some sections of the Indian media reported that a CO was among several killed on the Chinese side.
So far, there has been no official statement from the Chinese government or PLA on the erection of the gravestone. When the photos surfaced, according to defence sources, the discussions on Weibo (Chinese microblogging platform) were heated — why had China not officially declared the deaths? Some others wondered if the images were morphed.

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