The Chinese official media today stepped up its attack on India with editorials asking Indian troops to move out of Dokalam area in Sikkim sector “with dignity or be kicked out” and describing the situation as “worryingly tense”. While China’s nationalistic tabloid Global Times said India should be taught a “bitter lesson”, another official newspaper, China Daily, said India should look in the mirror. The Global Times said in its editorial that India will suffer “greater losses” than in 1962 if it “incites” border clashes with China. As the standoff in the Dokalam area continued for the third week, it said India should be taught a “bitter lesson”.
It also claimed that the Chinese public was infuriated by India’s “provocation”. “We believe the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is powerful enough to expel Indian troops out of Chinese territory. The Indian military can choose to return to its territory with dignity, or be kicked out of the area by Chinese soldiers,” it said. “We need to give diplomatic and military authorities full power to handle the issue. We call on Chinese society to maintain high-level unity on the issue. The more unified the Chinese people are, the more sufficient conditions the professionals will have to fight against India and safeguard our interests. This time, we must teach New Delhi a bitter lesson,” it said.
The editorial said it “firmly” believes that the face-off in what it calls the Donglang area will end with the Indian troops in “retreat”. “If New Delhi believes that its military might can be used as leverage in the Donglang area (referred to as Dokalam or Dok La), and it is ready for a two-and-a-half front war, we have to tell India that the Chinese look down on their military power,” it said. The paper was referring Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat saying that India ‘was ready for a two-and-a-half front war’.
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“Jaitley (Defence Minister Arun 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 added. Jaitley on June 30 said India of 2017 is different from what it was in 1962, hitting out at China for asking the Indian Army to learn from “historical lessons”. According to the editorial in China Daily, India’s defeat in the 1962 war was perhaps too “humiliating” for some in the Indian military and that is why they are talking “belligerently” this time.
Since the standoff on June 6, when the PLA destroyed bunkers of the Indian Army, claiming the area belonged to China, Chinese media have carried several pieces warning India against escalating border tensions. “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,” the China Daily said. The Global Times also asserted that China attaches great importance to domestic stability and doesn’t want to be mired in a mess with India.
“But New Delhi would be too naive to think that Beijing would make concessions to its unruly demands,” it said. “New Delhi’s real purpose is to turn the Donglang area of China into a disputed region and block China’s road construction there,” the editorial said. “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, it said.
The China Daily added that India should respect border agreement and withdraw troops, linking India’s move to stop the Chinese military from building a strategic road in Dokalam area in June 16 to its concern over China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which includes the USD 50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). “India may be trying to make a point. It is reportedly worried that the Chinese road construction may represent a significant change in the status quo with serious security implications for India, according to its foreign ministry.”
Such worries, the paper added, could have been allayed through dialogue and consultation using the mechanisms that are already in place and “which have long helped the two sides maintain peace and tranquillity in the region since their short border war in 1962”. The editorial said the situation in Dokalam remains “worryingly tense, with a stand-off between soldiers of the two countries still ongoing”. “That the situation has not flared out of control is thanks to the great restraint exercised by the Chinese troops. But the tensions resulting from the intrusion will surely grow if there is not a total withdrawal of the Indian troops.”
Unlike previous incidents that have occurred along other parts of the 3,500-kilometre border between China and India, the latest incident happened at a section that has long been demarcated by an 1890 historical convention and reaffirmed in documents exchanged between the successive Chinese and Indian governments since then. Both dailies, however, referred to India’s concerns over the road in Dokalam close to the narrow chicken neck area in the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan border as it could cut off a vital link with India’s north-eastern region. China and India have been engaged in a standoff in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan trijunction since June 6 after a Chinese Army construction party came to build a road.