China keeps up anti-India rhetoric, news agency calls face-off near Sikkim reckless | india-news | Hindustan Times
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China keeps up anti-India rhetoric, news agency calls face-off near Sikkim reckless

Commentary in state-run news agency accuses India of violating international law, says New Delhi not serious about developing ties with Beijing

india Updated: Jul 02, 2017 17:28 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Chinese army at the Nathu La pass. The region is close to where Indian and Chinese soldiers are locked in a face-off over the construction of a road.
Chinese army at the Nathu La pass. The region is close to where Indian and Chinese soldiers are locked in a face-off over the construction of a road. (HT FILE)

India acted recklessly by stopping China from carrying out construction activity on its own soil, Beijing’s official news agency Xinhua said on Sunday, accusing New Delhi of violating international law.

The commentary in Xinhua, owned and controlled by the Chinese government, is a reflection of the leadership’s position. Beijing has over the last week released photographs and maps to buttress its claim that Indian troops entered Donglang area — a region claimed by China and Bhutan — and violated its sovereignty.

“India has claimed that China’s activities caused a ‘serious security impact’ (for India), it is untenable. How can China affect others in their own territory? In fact, it is the Indian side that has ignored international law and has seriously interfered with China’s construction activities,” the piece said.

India’s ministry of external affairs rejected the Chinese accusations, calling the road construction at the strategic India-China-Bhutan tri-junction “deeply concerning” .

Trouble began early last month when Indian and Chinese troops came face-to-face over the road construction in Donglang, bordering the Indian state of Sikkim.

In retaliation, China stopped the Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage from the Nathu La pass, and its troops reportedly destroyed a number of old Indian bunkers. Last week, the PLA also invoked the 1962 war — which India lost — prompting India’s defence minister Arun Jaitley to hit back by saying that “the situation in 1962 was different, the India of today is different.”

Xinhua said the recent developments defied recent attempts to better the relations between the two countries.

“At a higher level, the cross-border behavior (of India) is a further departure from the consensus reached between the leaders of the two countries on the development of China-India relations,” the commentary said.

“Since India has promised to “properly deal with the differences”, since India’s foreign ministry recently said it “cherishes peace and tranquillity in the India-China border region”, why is it (the Indian army) still allowed to cross the border? After the incident, why not acknowledge the error and reverse (the decision). This is clearly paradoxical.”

Xinhua cited the “Convention between Great Britain and China relating to Sikkim and Tibet” of 1890 to bolster its argument. China’s defence and foreign ministries too recently referred to the accord to point fingers at India.

“After India’s independence, the Indian government has repeatedly confirmed it in writing, acknowledging that the two sides have no objection to the direction of the Sikkim section. There is a lot of evidence, including images and it is an undeniable fact that the Indian government has violated the historic covenant and the commitment of successive Indian governments,” the Xinhua commentary argued.

The piece didn’t mention – as per the MEA statement – that India had “underlined that the two Governments had in 2012 reached agreement that the tri-junction boundary points between India, China and third countries will be finalised in consultation with the concerned countries. Any attempt, therefore, to unilaterally determine tri-junction points is in violation of this understanding.”

It essentially means that 1890 treaty is not set in stone and differing perceptions of the border in the region can only be aligned after more discussions.

“Misrepresentation of facts by China” is how India is looking at Beijing’s point on the 1890 treaty.

To China, of course, India’s position doesn’t work.

“In today’s world, win-win cooperation is the main theme, and ‘dancing with the dragon’ is the rational choice that meets the trend of the times,” it said.

In a separate commentary, Xinhua said India’s strategic vision was myopic because of a “rising China”.

“Concerns over a rising China have, to some extent, spiralled into a kind of “strategic anxiety” regarding the country among some Indian politicians. Their misleading, unfounded “China-phobia,” however, might lead to strategic myopia and hurt India’s own interests,” it said.

“Harbouring suspicion and apprehension toward China’s intention, India has recently decided to stay away from the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, citing sovereignty concerns as its main reason,” the commentary said.