Qi Fabao, a regiment commander for the People’s Liberation Army, was among the troops present in 2020 during the high-altitude clash in the Galwan Valley, which is disputed between the world’s two most populous nations.
Troops fought a hand-to-hand battle that left at least 20 Indians and four Chinese soldiers dead, though it took Beijing eight months to acknowledge the casualties on its own side.
China’s Global Times state media outlet feted Qi — who sustained a serious head injury during the fighting — as a “hero” after reporting his inclusion among the Games’ 1,200 torchbearers.
But Qi’s reception was less warm among the compatriots of his Galwan Valley adversaries.
“China’s aggressive information warfare continues,” Indian journalist Abhishek Bhalla wrote on Twitter.
“They took a while to announce their dead but now Qi Fabao… is a torchbearer.”
And China’s aggressive information warfare continues on the Ladakh tussle. They took a while to announce their dead… https://t.co/CETOhRmvhO
— Abhishek Bhalla (@AbhishekBhalla7) 1643778119000
Both countries poured tens of thousands of extra troops into and around the Galwan Valley after the 2020 clash.
High-level talks late last year failed to ease tensions in the region and Indian news website The Wire said Qi’s inclusion in the torch relay was “another not-so-good sign of detente” with China.
Qi appeared on Chinese state broadcaster CCTV in December and said he was “ready to return to the battlefield and fight again”.
The Winter Olympics open on Friday but have been dogged by politics and Covid-19 fears.
The United States and several other nations are staging a diplomatic boycott of the Games over human rights concerns relating to the treatment of Uyghurs in the region of Xinjiang.
Skier Arif Mohammad Khan is India’s lone entry in the Winter Games, with spectators limited by Covid-19 protocols.