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SOURCE: THE PRINT

On 11 November, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) flew an H-6K bomber near the border with India. The report was also shared by other Chinese and Indian news media outlets.

In a show to mark PLA Air Force’s 72nd anniversary, CCTV aired footage of an H-6k flying over a mountain range claiming that the aircraft had been sent to the Himalayas. According to reports, the Chinese bomber was armed with KD-63 land attack cruise missiles with a range of 200 km. A report by the South China Morning Post quoted experts as saying that the alleged deployment was “definitely a warning to India”.

“New Delhi is within the combat range of the H-6k and the striking range of CJ-20”, the report quoted Macau-based Military observer Antony Wong.

Another former PLA instructor was quoted as saying, “China will not attack civilian areas, so Delhi will not be targeted by air-launched missiles even though the capital is quite close to the border”.

However, scholar and columnist Aadil Brar shared the CCTV’s images on Twitter, saying it is “unlikely that the H-6K was flown in the area any time recently. The backdrop has far less snow for a November in the Himalayas.”

A Twitter user Kyang Thang, aware of the Tibetan geography, said the footage of the bomber is from the uninhabited region in Amdo called Hoh Xil/ Achen Ganggye, which is one of the three traditional regions of Tibet. The user also shared a picture of the landscape of the region, which looks similar to the one shown in the CCTV footage.

A simple Google map search shows that the area is quite far from the India-China border.

“Though the analysis posted by the Twitter handle does suggest the images were from Amdo it still doesn’t entirely discount that Chinese PLA has the capability to fly an H-6K near the border. China, of course, uses information warfare strategy to obfuscate but at times such a strategy is meant for a domestic audience,” Aadil Brar told ThePrint.

“It’s China’s usual information warfare that we have seen since the beginning of border stand-off. But the bomber definitely can demonstrate the capability to fly close to the border if required,” he added.

Not the first time

This isn’t the first time that China has been called out for sharing fake news.

Last year, images of a red trench club wrapped with barbed wires from shopping portals were used to spread fake news that such tools were used during the India-China Galwan valley face-off.

China had also shared a photo of inflated balloons disguised as missile launchers for HQ-16 Surface to Air Missile, which the CCTV had later removed.