Washington: A top US lawmaker on Thursday described as “shameful” China picking a PLA soldier, who was part of the military command that attacked Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley in 2020, as a torchbearer for the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Republican Senator Jim Risch, a Ranking Member of the powerful US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also said that the US will continue to support the sovereignty of India.

“It’s shameful that Beijing chose a torchbearer for the Olympics 2022 who’s part of the military command that attacked India in 2020 and is implementing genocide against the Uyghurs. The US will continue to support Uyghur freedoms and the sovereignty of India,” Risch tweeted.

China on Wednesday fielded Qi Fabao, the regimental commander of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), who was injured during the June 2020 border skirmish with Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, as a torchbearer for the Games Torch Relay.

Qi took the flame from Wang Meng, China’s four-time Olympic short track speed skating champion, at Winter Olympic Park, the state-run Global Times newspaper reported.

In New Delhi, India on Thursday announced that its charg d’affaires in the Indian embassy in Beijing will not attend the opening or closing ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics over China honouring a military commander involved in the Galwan Valley clashes as its torchbearer for the mega sporting event.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi described the Chinese action of honouring the commander as “regrettable”.

India’s charg d’affaires in the Beijing embassy will not be attending the opening or closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, Bagchi said at a media briefing.

Twenty Indian Army personnel laid down their lives in the Galwan clashes that marked the most serious military conflicts between India and China in decades.

In February last year, China officially acknowledged that five Chinese military officers and soldiers were killed in the Galwan clashes with the Indian Army though it is widely believed that the death toll was higher.

Beijing is hosting the Winter Olympics amidst a diplomatic boycott by the US, European Union and several western countries over their allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang, including incarceration of over a million Uygur Muslim men and women in camps.

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