Ratcheting up its rhetoric against India, a state-run Chinese daily today warned that Beijing may support “pro-independence appeals in Sikkim” if New Delhi does not stop pursuing “regional hegemony” through the border face-off. “In the past, China was wary of India playing the Dalai Lama card, but this card is already overplayed and will exert no additional effect on the Tibet question. But if Beijing adjusts its stance on India-sensitive issues, it could be a powerful card to deal with New Delhi,” state-run Global Times said.
The paper, known for its aggressive rhetoric, said that China should reconsider its stance over Sikkim. “Although China recognised India’s annexation of Sikkim in 2003, it can readjust its stance on the matter,” the daily said.
“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,” it added.
Sikkim is a powerful card against the Dalai Lama, it said. The tabloid daily of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) also accused India of exerting “startling control and oppression over Bhutan.”
“As a result, Bhutan has not established diplomatic ties with China or any other permanent member of the UN Security Council. Through unequal treaties, India has severely jeopardised Bhutan’s diplomatic sovereignty and controls its national defence,” it said. It also accused India of imposing a “similar coercive policy on Sikkim before”.
“The small neighbour’s revolts over sovereignty in the 1960s and 1970s were brutally cracked down on by the Indian military. New Delhi deposed the king of Sikkim in 1975 and manipulated the country’s parliament into a referendum to make Sikkim a state of India. The annexation of Sikkim is like a nightmare haunting Bhutan, and the small kingdom is forced to be submissive to India’s bullying,” it said.
The daily said that India after its independence inherited the brutal colonial policies of Britain and pursued “regional hegemony at the sacrifice of tiny Himalayan nations”. “New Delhi’s regional hegemony is boldly shown by the border face-off this time. Using the excuse of ‘helping Bhutan protect its sovereignty’, India brazenly obstructs China’s road construction in Chinese territory,” it said.
The daily was apparently referring to Bhutan’s diplomatic protest to China accusing that the Chinese troops of constructing the road in Doklam, a territory claimed by both nations. “New Delhi’s regional hegemony is swelling to a tipping point. The country has to pay for its provocations,” The daily said.
“With certain conditions, Bhutan and Sikkim will see strong anti-India movements, which will negatively affect India’s already turbulent northeast area and rewrite southern Himalayan geopolitics,” it warned. “The Sino-India relationship is complicated. Beijing is more powerful yet unwilling to face a confrontation with New Delhi. But meanwhile, we must have enough tools to deter India from provocations,” it added.
The newspaper also carried an article quoting a security analyst as saying that India should “drop delusion of military strength” with China as the military gap between the two countries is bigger than in 1962.
“In 1962, the People’s Liberation Army still achieved an overwhelming victory in the military conflict against the Indian army with really poor logistics conditions. Nowadays, the situation is entirely different from 1962, so we hope India will not do anything irrational for its own good, otherwise it will pay more than in the past,” Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the state funded Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said.
“Not only militarily, but economically and technologically, India has no comparison to China at this moment. We have no hostility to India and we really want to cooperate with India to improve our ties. The door of peaceful resolution is always open as long as India doesn’t shut it,” Hu said.