China’s official silence on casualties in India skirmish point to dangerous morale problem in PLA

by WorldTribune Staff, July 5, 2020

A week after a deadly skirmish between Chinese and Indian troops at the Galwan Valley Himalayan border region, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has yet to confirm the number of casualties the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) suffered.

Chinese officials call media reports from India indicating at least 40 Chinese soldiers were killed “false information.” Asked to provide the official number of Chinese casualties, Beijing continues to insist there is “no information to offer.”

Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping. / YouTube

Meanwhile, India paid homage to the 20 troops it lost in the skirmish, eulogizing them with full state honors.

“Even a week after the incident China has refused to publicly admit that there had been casualties on its side,” Jinali Yang, founder and president of Citizen Power Initiatives for China, noted in a June 29 op-ed for The Washington Times.

“What country does not even acknowledge the martyrdom of its uniformed soldiers at its borders, let alone pay them a respectable last homage? It is China, which reels under the fear that the admittance that it had lost troops, more in number than its opponent, could lead to such major trouble and domestic unrest, that the very regime of the Chinese Communist Party could be put at stake,” Yang wrote.

The fear coming from the regime of supreme leader Xi Jinping is being fueled by “the simmering resentment running in the hearts and minds of 57 million veterans” of the PLA, Yang wrote.

“If this is the treatment meted out by the CCP regime to the martyrs of today, imagine the plight of PLA veterans, many of whom had participated in the bloody 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War or the Korean War. They have been holding frequent mass protests across China for years now, hoping to shame the government into recognizing its obligation toward those who battled along the country’s borders in the past,” Yang wrote.

“All they seek is better health care, pensions and jobs, as a mark of due gratitude for their service to the nation. Shockingly however, the country which has the world’s largest army, does not have a central agency to administer pensions and other benefits to its veterans. Resultantly, they are forced to depend on local governments for pensions, medical care and other basic benefits.”

There is no standard in what the PLA veterans receive. “After having given their youth and shed blood for the country, the veterans find themselves left by the CCP to the mercy of often corrupt local officials, making them feel like ‘donkeys slaughtered after they are too old to work a grindstone,’ ” Yang wrote.

In April 2018, Xi’s government launched the first-ever Ministry of Veteran Affairs. It is tasked with establishing a centralized system and policies on veteran affairs, including helping former military personnel find jobs.

“However, there is still no clarity on who will pay them their benefits, and re-employment woes have only increased given Xi’s 2015 decision to majorly downsize and reorganize the army by cutting 300,000 posts,” Yang wrote.

Amid organized veteran protests, in April 2017 China’s Ministry of Defense terminated the old system of China’s army unit numbers and patches and adopted a new one. “This change has made it more difficult for the protesting veterans to identify their affinities in the military forces and make appeals to them,” Yang noted.

Chinese authorities have subjected those veterans found participating in protests “to suppression, surveillance, detentions and even beatings,” Yang wrote. “There have been several instances of mysterious deaths of veterans who have been actively petitioning the government for their dues. Media mentions of veteran issues are also strictly censored in the country.”

Xi has prioritized modernizing the PLA by 2035 en route to it becoming a top-tier military by 2050.

But the current PLA cadres could get together with the millions of “disgruntled veterans (which may be facilitated by those within the PLA who are already unhappy with Xi — and there are thousands of them, such as those who were hurt by Xi’s move to separate PLA from commercial activities), they could form a formidable force capable of challenging Xi’s leadership,” Yang wrote.

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