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New Delhi: As the Sikkim standoff between India and China continues at Doka La, at the tri-junction between India, China and Bhutan, Beijing on Wednesday accused India of “misleading the public" by saying that Chinese troops are building a road that could endanger India’s access to the north-eastern states.

The Chinese foreign ministry also warned that it was weighing its options on issuing a travel alert for citizens visiting India depending on the security situation following the border standoff in the Sikkim section.

“The Chinese government attaches great importance to safety and lawful rights and interests of overseas Chinese citizens in accordance with the security condition of the relevant countries," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing. “We will decide whether or not to issue a travel alert," Geng said, responding to a question about reports in the Chinese media cautioning Chinese investors in India.

These developments came on a day that an editorial in China’s state-run Global Times news website called on Beijing to teach New Delhi a “bitter lesson"—greater than what happened in 1962—when Asian giants fought a brief but bitter war that ended badly for India.

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According to Geng, “In disregard of the 1890 Sino-Britain convention, the Indian side said that Doklam is located within the tri- junction of the three countries, that is misleading the public."

“The Indian side is actually misleading the public by saying that the incident took place at the tri-junction point," Geng said defending China’s road building at Doka La, which India and Bhutan have objected to.

India has expressed concern over the road building, apprehending that it may allow Chinese troops to cut India’s access to its northeastern states.

The editorial in Global Times news website, referring to comments made by defence minister Arun Jaitley that India of 2017 was not the same as 1962, said: “If New Delhi believes that its military might can be used as leverage in the Donglang area (Doklam), and it’s ready for a two-and-a-half front war, we have to tell India that the Chinese look down on their military power." 

“Jaitley is right that the India of 2017 is different from that of 1962—India will suffer greater losses than in 1962 if it incites military conflicts," it said.  The “two and a half front war" was a reference to comments made by Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat while on a visit to Sikkim recently where he said India was prepared to fight a “two and a half front war".

Wednesday's Chinese editorial comments follows remarks by the Chinese ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui in which he ruled out a compromise in the military standoff and put the onus on New Delhi to resolve the “grave" situation.

Sikkim standoff: China tells India to correct its mistakes on Panchsheel pact

In an interview to PTI on Tuesday, Luo said, “the ball is in India’s court" and it was for the Indian government to decide what options could be on the table to resolve the standoff.

Separately, an article on the People’s Liberation Army website on Tuesday warned that India's armed forces would not have an upper hand if the India-China faceoff in Sikkim triggers an armed conflict with China, the Hindustan Times reported. 

The sharpening of rhetoric comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to cross paths with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Hamburg at the G20 Summit hosted by Germany. It is still unclear whether the two leaders will hold bilateral talks but the two are set to meet as leaders from Brazil-Russia-India-China and South Africa congregate on the sidelines of the G20 summit for a BRICS emerging economies meet.  

Meanwhile, the Global Times editorial repeated the line taken by Beijing that India had trespassed over the Sikkim-China border—which China considers as already demarcated but India does not. 

The editorial said that India had changed arguments several times, first claiming that China intruded onto Indian territory, but later saying there was no incursion but that India is helping Bhutan safeguard its territory. 

“New Delhi’s real purpose is to turn the Donglang area of China (Doklam) into a disputed region and block China’s road construction there," the editorial said. 

“The Cold War-obsessed India is suspicious that China is building the road to cut off the Siliguri Corridor, an area held by Indians as strategically important for India to control its turbulent northeast area. India is taking the risk to betray the historical agreement and wants to force China to swallow the result," the editorial said. 

“India should look in the mirror. It was not able to refute the evidence of illegal border-trespassing and coerced its small neighbour Bhutan to shoulder the blame. India has long treated Bhutan as a vassal state, a rare scene under modern international relations. India’s illegal border intrusion is not allowed by international law; besides, its suppression of Bhutan must be condemned by the international community," the editorial added. 

Stating that the Chinese public was “infuriated" by India’s provocation, the editorial said, “We believe the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is powerful enough to expel Indian troops out of Chinese territory."

“We firmly believe that the face-off in the Donglang area will end up with the Indian troops in retreat. The Indian military can choose to return to its territory with dignity, or be kicked out of the area by Chinese soldiers," it warned.

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