Sun, Aug 06, 2017 - Page 1 News List

China increases its rhetoric on border dispute with India

AFP, BEIJING

A Chinese soldier, left, gestures next to an Indian soldier at a border crossing between the two nations in India’s northeastern Sikkim State on July 10, 2008.

Photo: AFP

China has stepped up its rhetoric in an increasingly tense border row with India, hinting at the possibility of military action in a propaganda push that analysts are calling “genuinely troubling.”

For more than a month, Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in a standoff on a remote, but strategically important Himalayan plateau near where Tibet, India and Bhutan meet.

On Thursday, Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesman Ren Guoqiang (任國強) said that Beijing had shown restraint, but had a “bottom line.”

“No country should underestimate the Chinese forces’ ... resolve and willpower to defend national sovereignty,” Ren said in a post on the ministry’s Web site.

It is a line that has been echoed almost word for word this week by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Xinhua news agency, the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, the official military news Web site of the Chinese armed forces and other outlets.

On Wednesday, the foreign ministry released a 15-page document of “facts” about the border dispute, which included a map of alleged intrusions and photographs of what it stated were Indian troops and military vehicles on China’s side of the border.

Calling for the “immediate and unconditional” withdrawal of Indian troops, it said that Beijing would “take all necessary measures” to safeguard its interests.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) on Thursday said that India was building roads, hoarding supplies and deploying a large number of troops in the area.

“This is by no means for peace,” Geng said.

Mistrust between the two sides goes back centuries and they fought a brief war in 1962 in India’s Arunachal Pradesh.

The recent escalation of China’s rhetoric was “genuinely troubling,” said Rory Medcalf, head of Australian National University’s National Security College. “It suggests that diplomatic conversations, including among high-level national security advisers, are failing to find a face-saving way for the two powers to withdraw their forces.”

The plateau is strategically significant, as it gives China access to the so-called “chicken’s neck” — a thin strip of land connecting India’s northeastern states with the rest of the country.

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