China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Friday advertised an upcoming raffle via social media in which it plans to give away a stone taken from the Galwan Valley in northern India’s Ladakh state to “10 lucky netizens,” China’s state-run Global Times reported.
The PLA’s Western Theater Command announced the raffle on January 7 through a notice posted by its official Sina Weibo account. Sina Weibo is a Chinese microblogging platform often likened to Twitter. The blog post detailed the command’s plans to “randomly choose 10 lucky netizens from those who reposted the notice and send them a stone from the Galwan Valley as a present,” according to the Global Times.
The advertisement was accompanied by a photograph of Chinese PLA soldiers “patrolling the Galwan Valley” along a rockface in the western Himalayas. The command superimposed Chinese characters onto the image reading, “Splendid landscape, no inch to give up.”
The Global Times quoted some Sina Weibo posts allegedly made by anonymous Chinese “netizens,” or social media users, in reaction to the PLA raffle. One such reaction “praised” the giveaway, describing it as “a very meaningful present as such a stone showed Chinese people’s attitude of not giving up one inch of the country’s territory.”
China’s PLA has been in a border standoff with the Indian Army along the two nations’ unmarked Himalayan boundary since June 15, 2020, when Indian and Chinese border regiments faced off in a deadly melee in Galwan Valley. The skirmish killed 20 Indian troops and a reported 40 Chinese soldiers, though Beijing officially confirmed just two PLA deaths from the incident, allowing it to falsely claim victory. The militaries of both China and India deployed extra troops and equipment to their unmarked Himalayan border in the weeks and months following the conflict in Ladakh. The encounter reportedly sparked after Chinese troops encroached into Indian territory in an overnight operation.
China’s PLA allegedly beefed up its military presence along various locations spanning China’s western Himalayan border with India in the days immediately preceding May 17, 2021, according to a report by India Today.
“Chinese forces are back to their traditional training areas for an exercise near Eastern Ladakh,” anonymous sources allegedly told India Today at the time.
The Global Times dismissed the India Today report as exaggerated on May 20, 2021, claiming the border troop buildup by the PLA along China’s border with India earlier that month was merely “routine.”
“[I]t is routine for the Indian and Chinese armies to make deployments along the border in summer, with experts warning India not to misjudge the situation and trigger a new round of conflict,” the Chinese state media outlet wrote.