India and China’s two-month long border standoff continues

Irshad Salim — Indian troops on Thursday ordered evacuation of Nathang village, near site of two-month standoff between Chinese and Indian armies at Dong Lang area (Doklam), China’s state-controlled Peoples Daily report, as Chinese experts on Thursday slammed Indian defense minister’s “irresponsible remarks,” noting that India should heed lessons from history in a correct way and should stop trespassing into China’s territory.

The current standoff between the two Asian giants began in mid-June, when hundreds of Indian border troops crossed the boundary in the Sikkim Sector of Doklam and advanced into territory claimed by China to obstruct the construction of a road.

China says India has illegally stayed in its territory for almost two months, with no signs of withdrawing so far.

The influential Chinese media outlet cited Times of India report of Aug 9 which said Defense Minister Arun Jaitley said that India had “learnt a lesson” from the 1962 war with China, adding that the Indian armed forces are strong enough to meet any “challenge to the country’s security.”

Jaitley’s remarks were made amid escalating tensions between China and India with regional implications, according to some analysts.

According to reports, this is not the first time that Indian officials have implied to use armed force to settle the two nation’s recent conflicts. Indian media reported on June 8 that the Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat said India is prepared for a “two and a half front war” against China, Pakistan, and its internal security threats.

China and Pakistan call one another “Iron Brothers”, and have embarked on a humongous $62 billion geostrategic and geoeconomic energy and trade corridor through Pakistan– the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). According to observers, CPEC will undoubtedly make Pakistan the center of economic gravity in the region.

However, two festering matters remain geostrategic hiccups for a full-blown CPEC- Afghanistan (on Pakistan’s west) peace and Pakistan’s long-standing Kashmir dispute with India on the northeast.

China has offered India partnership in CPEC if Pakistan agrees. It has also offered Delhi to participate in One Belt One Road — the $1 trillion umbrella initiative launched in 2014.

In response to Gen. Rawat’s remarks, Zhou Gang, a former Chinese ambassador to India, told People’s Daily Online that “Indian authorities could have done a lot to improve the two nations’ relationships, but instead, it sees China as an obstacle hindering its access to becoming the dominant power of South Asia, which is a typical Cold War mentality.”

Guan Peifeng, an associate professor from the China Institute of Boundary and Ocean Studies at Wuhan University, said India’s trespassing into Chinese territory is groundless and illegal, noting that the country has been holding hegemonic and colonial attitudes to deal with border disputes with other nations since it gained its independence.

“By claiming UK’s special privileges and legacies in the disputed areas, India has annexed Sikkim, as well as stirred up disputes in Tibet. It has also used its power to influence Bhutan, disrespecting its sovereignty. [History] has shown that the recent standoff is merely another show of India’s expansionism,” said Guan.

The military border standoff reveals India’s geopolitical ambitions and motivation to use “protecting Bhutan” as an excuse for its own superpower dream, an op-ed in online state media said.

The United Arab Emirates minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said on Wednesday any escalation of tension between India and China on the Doka La standoff will be potentially “very disruptive” for the countries of the region and both sides should try to resolve the issue amicably,

Gargash said his country has been keeping an eye on the issue and hoped that both the powers will find a way to resolve it.

As of Aug.7, there were still 53 Indian soldiers and a bulldozer illegally in Chinese territory, news portal haiwainet.cn reported on Aug 9.

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