Misleading India-China claims being shared online

2020-10-06 19:22:19

India-China border tension provokes anti-China protests in India

Tensions along the border between India and China remain high after a clash in June which killed at least 20 Indian soldiers.

As the two countries continue talks about disengagement, misleading content is being shared on social media about the stand-off.

We’ve taken a look at some of it.

Claim: Chinese soldiers being sent to the border are crying

Verdict: Misleading video taken out of context

This video shared by Twitter users was picked up in September by some Taiwanese media outlets, and then went viral in India, with users there mocking the Chinese soldiers for crying because – it’s claimed – they were being sent to the border.

Misleading video of crying Chinese soldiersMisleading video of crying Chinese soldiers
Misleading video of crying Chinese soldiers

It’s been viewed more than 300,000 times, and even picked up by top media outlets in India like the Zee News TV channel.

The recruits are on a minibus, singing a popular Mandarin-language military song about being homesick. The red-and-yellow sashes worn by the soldiers bear the slogan, “Join the military with honour.”

But there’s no evidence we have found that they are being sent to the border with India.

Chinese media outlets say the soldiers are new army recruits from Yingzhou district in Fuyang city, Anhui province, and were emotional after bidding farewell to family members.

A local news outlet posted on the Chinese messaging app, WeChat, on 15 September, that the soldiers were on their way to a military barracks, and mentioned that five of them volunteered to serve in the Tibet region.

But it made no mention of them being posted to the border or the recent tensions with India.

And on 22 September, the Chinese-language edition of the state-run Global Times picked up the story. It accused the Taiwanese media of “lying” for linking the picture of the new recruits “tearfully bidding farewell to their parents” with the China-India border situation.

Claim: A video shows Indian soldiers dancing to music from Chinese loudspeakers

Verdict: Old video that pre-dates any mention of loudspeakers on the border

On 16 September, there were reports in both the Indian and Chinese media of China’s People’s Liberation Army installing loudspeakers along the border and playing Punjabi music to “distract” Indian soldiers.

Media reports had said the loudspeakers were put up by the Chinese army in an area under round-the-clock surveillance by Indian soldiers.

Both the Indian and Chinese media picked up this story quoting army sources, but there were no images or videos shared in these reports and the Indian army has not confirmed this happened.

Nevertheless, social media users from India have been sharing old videos of Indian soldiers dancing to Punjabi music, which we found pre-date any reports of loudspeakers along the border.

Old video of Indian army dancing to Punjabi musicOld video of Indian army dancing to Punjabi music
Old video of Indian army dancing to Punjabi music

In one viral video shared in September, five soldiers are seen dancing to a Punjabi music number. It’s had more than 88,000 views and the user claims it shows the India-China border in Ladakh.

However, a reverse-image search shows the video goes back to July this year.

And although the exact location of the video is difficult to establish, news reports from the time suggest it was from the India-Pakistan border and not the India-China border as claimed.

Claim: China has a huge speaker playing very loud music that has injured Indian soldiers

Verdict: No evidence that this device is being used to play music on the border

Screen grab of the siren labelled no evidenceScreen grab of the siren labelled no evidence
Screen grab of the siren labelled no evidence

This is a variation on the previous claim about loudspeakers, with a Chinese Twitter user sharing a video of a large device which they say is used to blast extremely loud music at Indian encampments, making some Indian soldiers sick and injuring them.

The video has been viewed more than 200,000 times and even featured on an Indian news channel with the same claim.

The now viral clip is actually from a March 2016 YouTube video of a Chinese-made mobile warning siren, produced by a firm that makes emergency safety equipment.

It shows a large, 4.6 tonne rotating siren used for situations such as natural disasters or other emergencies for the civilian population, according to the product description on the firm’s website.

It’s not a loudspeaker for playing music, and it’s not clear if this warning siren is even being used by the Chinese army on the border.

In addition, there’ve been no confirmed reports of eardrum injuries to Indian soldiers in this area.

Claim: A bus accident involving Indian security personnel is linked to border tensions

Verdict: Misleading as the accident happened but not in the border area

A Twitter user from China posted a video on 21 September, claiming India can’t meet China halfway on border talks because “it has to save its troops from killing themselves”.

The video showed part of a submerged military bus in a river with soldiers standing nearby, and the text refers to what it calls the Indian army’s “lethal suicide attempts in Ladakh”.

Video of a drowning army truck shared with a misleading claim about Indian soldiers along the border with ChinaVideo of a drowning army truck shared with a misleading claim about Indian soldiers along the border with China
Video of a drowning army truck shared with a misleading claim about Indian soldiers along the border with China

The video has been viewed nearly 5,000 times.

It is a genuine video, but it is not from the India-China border. It’s from the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, where a bus full of Indian security personnel fell into a flooded river in Bijapur district in September.

Indian media reported on this incident at the time, showing the overturned bus, and said there were no casualties.

With additional research from BBC Monitoring

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