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Chinese Media Coverage Of Chopper Incidents in Arunachal Pradesh

An M-17 helicopter of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed near Tawang in India’s Arunachal Pradesh on November 19,2010, killing all the 12 persons—11 from the Indian Air Force including the two pilots, and a Lt.Col from the Army—who were on board.

2. The Government-controlled Xinhua news agency of China disseminated two different versions of the news about the crash—-one for the English language media of China and the other for the Chinese language media.

3.The version for the English language media stated as follows: ” According to AFP news, an Indian military transport helicopter in the northeast, in the border areas crashed, killing all 12 people.The plane is Russian-made military helicopter . It crashed shortly after take-off. The cause of the accident may be due to local weather. Indian Defense Ministry spokesman told the media that 12 people were on the helicopter.There were no survivors. All the dead bodies have been found.” ( My comment: This English version had been taken taken from a Chinese blog)

4.The Chinese language version, as translated in Chinese blogs, stated as follows: ” Press Trust of India quoting Indian military sources reported that 12 o’clock noon, local time, the Indian Air Force transport helicopter Mi -17 in the so-called “Arunachal Pradesh” fell to the ground.Two pilots and 9 flight trainees killed . Indian Air Force has ordered a cause of the accident investigation. The so-called “Arunachal Pradesh” is located in southern Tibet, China, which has always been Chinese territory. China’s repeated solemn declaration that China never recognized the illegal “McMahon Line” and the Indian authorities in February 1987 announced the establishment of the so-called “Arunachal Pradesh.” Unquote .

5.The version of the crash of a Russian-designed helicopter in the Tawang region on April 19,2011,so far carried by some Chinese websites and blogs is based on a report disseminated by the Agence France Presse (AFP), which stated as foillows:

2011-04-20 (China Military News cited from AFP) — INDIA on Wednesday began an investigation into a civilian helicopter crash near the Chinese border that killed 17 people, officials said.

The Russian-designed passenger helicopter apparently caught fire while flying in the Tawang region of the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday.

Government investigators travelled to the mountainous crash site to examine the wreckage.

‘Two experts from the Director-General of Civil Aviation have arrived in Tawang to find out how and why the helicopter crashed,’ state official N. Deb told AFP.

The aircraft, belonging to state-run Pawan Hans Helicopters, had 23 people on board including five crew members. Police had put the toll at 18 but on Wednesday night one missing passenger was found near the site.

‘After a four-hour search, she was found badly injured,’ police inspector general S.B. Singh told AFP. ‘She remains in critical condition.’ Tawang police chief S.N. Musoby said injured survivors were airlifted to Guwahati, the largest city in north-eastern India.

6. Interestingly, the AFP’s description of the crash area as “the Tawang region of the north-eastern Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh” has not been edited while re-circulating the AFP report in China. The past practice of describing the area either as “Southern Tibet” or as the “so-called Arunachal Pradesh” has not been followed. This appears to be due to loose editing and one should not, therefore, attribute any political significance to it.

7.There has been no reference so far in the Chinese media or blogs to the missing of a helicopter carrying the Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister since the forenoon of April 30.( 1-5-11)

( The writer, Mr B.Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies.E-mail: )

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