Qi Fabao, a Chinese commander involved in Medieval-style clashes with Indian troops in 2020, takes part in traditional torch relay ahead of Beijing Winter Olympics, sparking anger in India.

Torch bearer Qi Fabao, a regimental commander in the People's Liberation Army, relays the Olympic flame at the Winter Olympic Park.
Torch bearer Qi Fabao, a regimental commander in the People's Liberation Army, relays the Olympic flame at the Winter Olympic Park. (Reuters)

The Beijing Winter Olympics has drawn a frosty reception in India after a Chinese soldier involved in a deadly Himalayan skirmish took part in the traditional torch relay.

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 of disputed Kashmir, which is contested between the world's two most populous nations.

Troops fought a hand-to-hand Medieval-style battle that left at least 20 Indians and four Chinese soldiers dead.

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.

READ MORE: Chinese and Indian troops clashed in freezing Galwan Valley. Here’s why

'Sign of detente'

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."

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". 

READ MORE:  What’s behind the China-India border dispute?

Controversies 

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 alleged abuses of Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

Skier Arif Mohammad Khan from India-administered Kashmir is India's lone entry in the Winter Games, with spectators limited by Covid-19 protocols.

Source: AFP