Xi Jinping: Won’t let anyone split Chinese territory, ready to defeat invasions

China has blamed India for the impasse in Doklam, accusing Indian soldiers of trespassing and preventing Chinese soldiers from building a road in the region which is claimed by Bhutan.

world Updated: Aug 01, 2017 19:02 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Xi Jinping,People’s Liberation Army,Sino-India standoff
China's President Xi Jinping claps hands during the ceremony to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the China's People's Liberation Army at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on August 1. (REUTERS)

China loves peace but has the confidence to defeat “all invasions”, President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday, adding Beijing will never seek “aggression or expansion” amid the military standoff with India in the Sikkim sector, now in its second month and the longest in recent decades.

“We will never seek aggression or expansion, but we have the confidence to defeat all invasions,” Xi said in an address to mark the 90th year of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the world’s largest armed forces.

“We will never allow any people, organisation or political party to split any part of Chinese territory out of the country at any time, in any form,” he said at the ceremony at the Great Hall of the People.

On Sunday, Xi made similar comments about China’s and PLA’s capabilities to ward off invasions. “I firmly believe that our gallant military has both confidence and ability to defeat all invading enemies,” he said at a military parade in the run-up to celebrations marking the PLA’s 90th year.

China has blamed India for the impasse, accusing Indian soldiers of trespassing and preventing Chinese soldiers from building a road in Donglang region, which is claimed by Bhutan.

Beijing wants India to withdraw its troops from Donglang or Doklam before the two sides can open talks. New Delhi says the road, if built, will have serious security implications for India.

Though neither of Xi’s two speeches specifically mentioned the Doklam standoff, the mention of “invasion” in his address assumes significance as the Chinese government, experts and media have repeatedly alleged that Indian border troops “invaded” Chinese territory.

China’s assertive stance on territorial disputes can also be observed in the South China Sea and East China Sea, where Beijing is locked in disputes with several countries, including Japan, over the ownership of islands, reefs, and resources under the waters.

“No one should expect us to swallow the bitter fruit that is harmful to our sovereignty, security or development interests,” Xi said on Tuesday.

Though Xi’s speeches have been assertive, a leading PLA military expert told Hindustan Times there is little chance that China would go to war with India.

Major General (retired) Yao Yunzhu from PLA’s top research institution, Academy of Military Science (AMS), said the preparedness of its army was for countering multiple threat perceptions – South and East China Seas, the Korean Peninsula, and with the help of the US, an increasingly militarily assertive Japan.

“The Chinese military…is not to be ready to go to war with India but to (be) ready to be able to defend and safeguard against all kinds of security situations, deal with all kinds of security threats that China has,” she said.

She dismissed the theory that China could cut off the Siliguri corridor in West Bengal, which connects India’s mainland with the states in the northeast.

“Do we have a need? Why should we do it? Do you imagine a major war between China and India? For what purpose? We have border issues, we try to solve them, stabilise them. But because of this border issue, are we going to cut India into two? That to me is just the preparation for highly unlikely scenarios. Are we two countries this kind of enemies?” Yao, director emeritus at AMS’s Centre on China-America Defence Relations, said.

Yao added if Indian troops did not withdraw from Donglang – under China’s control but claimed by Bhutan – Beijing would have to use “whatever means” to correct the situation.

Xi’s remarks came against the backdrop of a massive official media campaign by the foreign and defence ministries here accusing Indian troops of trespassing into Doklam.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, during a meeting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) security officials in Beijing during July 27-28, also held separate talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi.

Both countries have been tight-lipped about the outcome of the Doval-Yang talks.

First Published: Aug 01, 2017 10:53 IST