Five claims Chinese media is making about Sikkim border standoff with India
New Delhi: Yet again India-China rapprochement has proved to be short-lived, after raising hopes in the wake of a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation on 8 June in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The two countries are involved in a border standoff in the Sikkim section over the Doklam plateau.
The standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at the Doklam plateau is now officially the longest between both countries since the 1962 war. While there have been similar face-offs in the past, the latest crisis is extraordinary due to messaging surrounding the altercation.
The Chinese are building up the pressure on India via their state media publications and spokespersons.
Here are the five key things that the Chinese media has said since the Sikkim standoff began around mid-June.
On Donglong/Doka La
“The latest incident happened at a section that has long been demarcated by an 1890 historical convention and reaffirmed in documents exchanged between successive Chinese and Indian governments since then. The transgression by Indian troops therefore violates that convention and the basic norms that guide international relations,” an editorial in China Daily said.
“India has startling control and oppression over Bhutan, and as a result, Bhutan has not established diplomatic ties with its neighbour China or any other permanent member of the UN Security Council… New Delhi’s regional hegemony is swelling to a tipping point. The country has to pay for its provocations… The world should pay attention to New Delhi’s bullying of tiny Himalayan countries. The international community must be aware of Bhutan’s dilemma and prevent India from oppressing this small kingdom,” the Global Times wrote in an editorial.
“Beijing should reconsider its stance over the Sikkim issue. Although China recognized India’s annexation of Sikkim in 2003, it can readjust its stance on the matter. There are those in Sikkim that cherish its history as a separate state, and they are sensitive to how the outside world views the Sikkim issue. As long as there are voices in Chinese society supporting Sikkim’s independence, the voices will spread and fuel pro-independence appeals in Sikkim,” the same editorial said.
On two-and-a-half-front war
“The Chinese public is infuriated by India’s provocation. 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. If New Delhi believes that its military might can be used as leverage in the Donglang area, 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… This time, we must teach New Delhi a bitter lesson,” another Global Times editorial said.
Belt and Road Initiative connection
“…Perhaps its defeat in that war was too humiliating for some in the Indian military and that is why they are talking belligerently this time. And doubtlessly such irresponsible acts and rhetoric reflect the “strategic anxiety” over China’s rise harboured by some Indian politicians and their apprehensions about the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. Yet as Chinese officials have emphasized on many occasions, the initiative aims to promote economic cooperation and connectivity and has no bearing on sovereignty issues. There is no need for India to be sensitive about the initiative,” the editorial in China Daily said.
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