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India needs to be taught rules of the game: Chinese media on Sikkim stand-off

The state media article said the Chinese government “must force the Indian troops to retreat to the Indian side by all means necessary”.

india Updated: Jun 28, 2017 20:00 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Sikkim stand-off,India-China,Chinese media
Chinese army officers oversee preparations as they stand between pictures of the Patola Palace, left, and the Chinese flag, on the Chinese side of the international border at Nathula Pass, in northeastern Indian state of Sikkim.(AP Photo)

India needs to be taught the “rules” of dealing with border disputes, Chinese state media has said, cautioning New Delhi not to mistake China’s silence on boundary problems as its weakness.

The warning comes in the middle of a standoff between the border troops along Sikkim on India’s northeastern border with Tibet that has seen the Chinese side suspend an annual pilgrimage through the Nathu La pass that lies on the frontier.

The Chinese government “must force the Indian troops to retreat to the Indian side by all means necessary”, the media said on Wednesday, a day after China accused Indian soldiers of crossing into its territory.

Cautioning India against being “arrogant”, the state media reminded New Delhi that China was a far more powerful country, militarily and economically.

“China avoids making an issue of border disputes, which has indulged India’s unruly provocations. This time the Indian side needs to be taught the rules,” the nationalistic tabloid Global Times said in an opinion piece.

In the last few days, Beijing has stepped up the offensive but New Delhi has said little on the face-off.

In an interview to HT on Tuesday, Indian Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat shrugged off reports of a skirmish in Sikkim, saying there was no incursion into India.

But the Chinese media blamed the Indian military so did the ministries of defence and foreign affairs, which on Tuesday accused Indian soldiers of preventing its troops from building a road on their side of the line of actual control, the de facto border between the two countries.

The Chinese side also linked the resumption of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, an annual pilgrimage to Mount Kailash in Tibet held sacred by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, to the “withdrawal” of troops by India.

The Nathu La route for Mansrovar Yatra is a major confidence-building exercise between the two often-bickering neighbours.

The American twist

“India cannot afford a showdown with China on border issues. It lags far behind China in terms of national strength and the so-called strategic support for it from the US is superficial,” the Global Times said, once again highlighting discomfort in China over Indo-US ties.

Hours after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President Donald Trump in Washington on Monday, the state-run Chinese daily had said India’s bid to team with the US to counter China could have “catastrophic results”.

Beijing wanted friendly ties with New Delhi but the relationship should be based on mutual respect, it said.

“China has no desire to confront India. Maintaining friendly ties with New Delhi is Beijing’s basic policy but this must be based on mutual respect,” it said.

“It’s not time for India to display arrogance toward China. India’s GDP is only one-quarter of China’s and its annual defence budget is just one-third. Having a friendly relationship and cautiously handling border issues with China is its best choice.”

The tabloid said it was unclear if the flare-up was a strategic move made by the Indian government or the fault of a low-level soldier. China should force Indian troops to retreat by all means necessary and should continue building the road.

Allegations of intrusions along the western section of the China-India border were common but a face-off in Sikkim was rare, it said. The Nathu La Pass was reopened in 2006 because there is no border dispute between China and India over the area.

The testy ties between two Asian giants have taken a hit lately, with China opposing India’s efforts to get into the nuclear suppliers group. Beijing’s deepening relationship with “all-weather friend” Pakistan and its ambitious One Belt, One Road initiative have only added to the distrust.

The Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh in April had riled China which sees the Tibetan spiritual leader as a separatist and claims large parts of India’s easternmost state as southern Tibet.

First Published: Jun 28, 2017 08:10 IST