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Chinese social media abuzz with ‘statements’ on Doklam standoff warning India to pull back

Doklam standoff: Many Chinese on such platforms have interpreted the salvo of ministerial and media statements as part of a “last warning” to India though none of the statements explicitly say so.

india Updated: Aug 04, 2017 12:50 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
India China border,Doklam,Doklam standoff
An Indian national flag is flown next to the Chinese national emblem.(AP File Photo)

Social media platforms in China are abuzz over official statements, including the one issued by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) late on Thursday night, demanding India withdraw its troops from the Donglang (Doklam) near the Sikkim border to end the ongoing military impasse.

Many Chinese on such platforms have interpreted the salvo of ministerial and media statements as part of a “last warning” to India though none of the statements explicitly say so.

The brief PLA statement, for one, has been reproduced in leading newspapers and official media and has been reposted, commented, and liked thousands of times.

Indian and Chinese soldiers are locked in a standoff since June 16, with Beijing accusing New Delhi of trespassing and preventing its soldiers from building a road in disputed region of Doklam. Bhutan and India maintain that Doklam, or Donglang as the Chinese call it, is a Bhutanese territory. The road, if built, would have serious implication for India’s security.

The Chinese have taken an aggressive stand on the border impasse and has even warned of a war.

What has added to the online buzz over the standoff in the last 24 hours is the coordinated effort by the foreign and defence ministries and leading official media outlets to widely publicise latest the government statements that rejected India’s arguments and demanded the immediate withdrawal of Indian troops from “Chinese soil”.

On August 2, the ministry of foreign affairs (MFA) issued a 15-page “fact statement” on the standoff, which was widely read, circulated, and published in both Chinese and Indian media. It followed it up with another scathing and acerbic statement the next day, saying India talks about peace along the border but is not working towards defusing the situation.

Within hours, official news agency Xinhua, PLA daily, the ministry of defence (MOD) and the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China (CPC), released statements and editorials denouncing India’s “trespass” and “invasion”.

All major newspapers, news websites, and social media platforms have articles and comment pieces criticising, warning, and demanding that New Delhi pull back its troops for talks.

The media onslaught isn’t restricted to China.

In New Delhi, a senior Chinese diplomat briefed selected Indian journalists and said India must immediately and unconditionally withdraw from the Donglang region.

But the PLA statement, released in Chinese on Thursday night, caught the attention of Chinese online media users. It said China’s “…goodwill has its principles and restraint has its bottom line”.

“Since the incident occurred, China has shown utmost goodwill and sought to communicate with India through diplomatic channels to resolve the incident. Chinese armed forces have also shown a high level of restraint with an eye to the general bilateral relations and the regional peace and stability,” Ren Guoqiang, a ministry spokesperson, said.

Ren called on the Indian side to swiftly address the situation in a proper manner to restore peace and tranquillity in the border region.

He also urged the Indian side to give up the illusion of its delaying tactic, as no country should underestimate the Chinese forces’ confidence and capability to safeguard peace and their resolve and willpower to defend national sovereignty, security, and development interests.

Chinese armed forces will resolutely protect the country’s territorial sovereignty and security interests, said Ren.

Experts said the Chinese defence ministry was “a serious statement” and sounded like a warning.

“The defence ministry does not issue statements recklessly,” Hu Shisheng, director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said.

“The most alarming aspect (of the situation) is that both (China and India) sides have totally different views, which could lead to more confrontation... The statements from MFA and MOD are aimed at exerting pressure on India to withdraw (troops), start a talk, and calm the situation,” Hu added.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Thursday war was not a solution to the border standoff with China and India would resolve the issue through dialogue. Swaraj told the Rajya Sabha it was not possible to resolve every issue through war and solutions could be found through talks.

India was negotiating with China not only on Doklam but issues relating to the overall bilateral relationship, she said.

First Published: Aug 04, 2017 12:50 IST