By Ravish Bhatia
As National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in Beijing on Thursday, marking the 43rd day of the stand-off between their two armies in Bhutan’s Doklam plateau, it was worthwhile remembering a remark made by Chinese president Xi Jinping to the media last year. “All news media run by the party must work to speak for the party’s will and its propositions, and protect the party’s authority and unity,” Xi said. Here are excerpts from the Chinese media on the ongoing crisis:
1. “China urges India to withdraw border guards crossing the boundary”
Xinhua News, June 27:
“Indian border guards crossed the boundary in the Sikkim section of the China-India border and entered the territory of China, and obstructed normal activities of Chinese frontier forces in the Donglang area recently, and the Chinese side has taken counter-measures.
“In view of the above event, for safety reasons, China has to put off arranging the Indian official pilgrims to enter China at the Nathu La Pass.”
2. “India has most to lose in border spats”
Global Times, July 4:
“Primarily, India intends to test how the US and Russia would react to (China’s) provocations. Under the tenure of former US president Barack Obama, India’s position in the US Asia-Pacific strategy was clear-cut, but it’s become ambiguous after Donald Trump was elected. Therefore, India hopes to remind the US of its value in confronting China.
New Delhi also wants to weigh which is more important to Russia: China or itself. The US and Russia won’t take sides as China is of great importance for their economic development and they need China’s cooperation with a string of regional affairs. That Moscow needs India in the SCO to counterbalance China is merely India’s illusion.”
3. “India will suffer greater losses than in 1962”
Global Times, July 4:
“If New Delhi believes that its military might can be used as leverage in the (Doklam) area, and it’s ready for a two-and-a-half front war, we have to tell India that the Chinese look down on their military power. 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..”
4. “China can rethink stance on Sikkim, Bhutan”
Global Times, July 6:
“Beijing should reconsider its stance over the Sikkim issue. Although China recognized India’s annexation of Sikkim in 2003, it can readjust its stance on the matter. There are those in Sikkim that cherish its history as a separate state, and they are sensitive to how the outside world views the Sikkim issue. As long as there are voices in Chinese society supporting Sikkim’s independence, the voices will spread and fuel pro-independence appeals in Sikkim.
“With certain conditions, Bhutan and Sikkim will see strong anti-India movements, which will negatively affect India’s already turbulent northeast area and rewrite southern Himalayan geopolitics.
“The Sino-Indian relationship is complicated. Beijing is more powerful yet unwilling to face a confrontation with New Delhi. But meanwhile, we must have enough tools to deter India from provocations.”
5. “Who is bullying Bhutan, China or India?”
People’s Daily, July 12:
“It is noteworthy that Indian troops’ efforts to block Chinese road construction on the Bhutan border are portrayed in Indian media as stopping China from building roads into India – revealing just how little respect the Indians really have for Bhutanese “sovereignty.” But such spin is not surprising. In Bhutan, the IMTRAT (Indian Military Training) General, and Indian Ambassador both residing in the two most prized real estates in the capital, are said to be the most powerful men in the country, even determining what does and does not get published in the national media.
“And here’s another question equally impossible to ask: How might it benefit Bhutan to warm up a bit more to China, and even to establish diplomatic relations with its huge northern neighbour, cooperate economically, and welcome selective Chinese aid and investments in Bhutan’s infrastructure?
“After all, our connection with Bhutan already goes far beyond the political and economic to a deep cultural and spiritual affinity. For example, Bhutan shares directly with China the profound wisdom, texts and traditions of Mahayana Buddhism. China today is experiencing an unprecedented Buddhist revival that creates a natural and intuitive bond with Bhutan.”
6. “Turning a deaf ear to China will not help India on Doklam”
People’s Daily, July 14:
“India should not regard the existing situation as the same as or even similar to the previous two stand-offs in 2013 and 2014 near Ladakh, a disputed area between China, Pakistan and India in southeastern Kashmir. Diplomatic efforts led the troops frictions there to a well-arranged end. But this time it is a totally different case.
This is the first time Indian troops have crossed the border in the Sikkim section India has demarcated with China, which… is also the only determined boundary between the two Asian countries.
7. “PLA brigade holds live-fire military drills in Tibet”
People’s Daily, July 16:
As the People’s Liberation Army conducted live fire exercises in Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Regions at an undisclosed location, a video released by China Central Television showed Chinese soldiers armed with missiles and anti-tank grenades damaging ‘bunkers’ and modern howitzers blasting through the Himalayan mountain fields. This was the first open military threat by China.
8. “Doval visit won’t sway China over border standoff”
Global Times, July 24:
“The BRICS National Security Advisers’ meeting is not a platform to address Sino-Indian border skirmishes…Doval will inevitably be disappointed if he attempts to bargain with Beijing over the border disputes. India’s unconditional withdrawal is China’s bottom line. The Chinese government’s strong determination requesting Indian troops withdrawal is backed by all Chinese people who are firm that we can’t lose one inch of Chinese territory.”
9. “Time for India to stop trespassing and daydreaming”
Xinhua News, July 25:
“China has the will to solve the problem peacefully through diplomatic means, and China also cherishes the peace and serenity in the border areas, but the precondition is that the trespassers of India must withdraw unconditionally and immediately.
“Chinese Ministry of National Defense (has) warned that India “should not leave things to luck and not harbor any unrealistic illusions. The history of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the Chinese military, in the past 90 years has demonstrated its increasing capacities and unshakable determination to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity… Shaking a mountain is easy but shaking the PLA is hard.
China and India, both advocates of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, need to view and treat their relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, and make greater efforts in strengthening mutual trust and controlling disputes.”
Indian Express, July 28, 2017