Old video misrepresented as 'India-China border skirmish in 2022'

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Footage has circulated in social media posts that misleadingly claim it shows fighting between soldiers on the India-China border in December 2022. The video has in fact circulated online since at least May 2020 in Indian media reports about soldiers clashing along the disputed border in Ladakh. The Indian army rejected claims at the time that the clip shows a skirmish involving its troops on the border.

Warning: graphic footage

The graphic video shows a group of men in military uniform shouting in Hindi, one of India's official languages, as they hurl objects at a military truck in a mountainous area next to an expanse of water.

A soldier can be heard saying, "Take a picture of the vehicle".

As the camera zooms out, several other military vehicles can be seen lined up behind the truck.

A soldier can be heard saying "Relax, relax" to an injured soldier who is lying on the ground, covered by a shield.

"December 9 video summary of clashes between India and China," reads a simplified-Chinese Gettr post that shared the video on December 14.

"About 300 Chinese soldiers, 30-50 wounded. About 50 soldiers on the Indian side, 8-9 wounded. Both sides accuse each other of crossing the border illegally," it added.

A screenshot of the misleading post, taken on December 20, 2022.

The same video was viewed more than 230,000 times alongside a similar claim in posts on Facebook and Twitter, including here, here and here.

It circulated online days after China's military said that Indian troops had "illegally" crossed a disputed border in the Himalayas and "obstructed" Chinese border patrol troops, triggering a fresh stand-off on December 9.

India's defence minister on December 13 accused China of trying to "unilaterally change the status quo".

The incident is thought to be the most serious on the nuclear-armed Asian giants' disputed frontier since 2020, when 20 Indian troops and four Chinese soldiers died in brawling.

However, the footage circulating online does not show the December 9 clash.

Old footage

A reverse image search of keyframes extracted from the footage found the same video posted on YouTube on May 31, 2020.

The video, uploaded on a channel called Skylark Ladakh T.V, is titled: "China and Indian Army fight at Pangong Lake Ladakh 2020".

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video shared in misleading posts (left) and the YouTube video from May 2020 (right):

The footage was cited in various Indian media reports published on May 31, 2020, including from India Today, The Economic Times, The Wire and CNN-News18.

The reports identified the men in the video as Indian soldiers and said the wounded man lying on the ground was a Chinese soldier.

However, the reports included a statement from the Indian army which said the video was "not authenticated" and rejected claims that it shows violence on the India-China border.

The video corresponds with Google Street View images of the Pangong Lake area on the disputed border in Ladakh.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading posts (left) and the image on Google Street View (right):

Frames from the video in the misleading posts (left) and the lake in Ladakh on Google Street View (right) ( AFP)

However, AFP has not been able to verify exactly where or when the footage was filmed.

AFP has debunked various false claims around the India-China border dispute, including here, here, here and here.