China vows to take ‘all measures’ to protect border

By Shan Jie
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Crisis reaches crucial moment as India does not withdraw troops
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The graphics shows an appendix released in the document titled “The Facts and China’s Position Concerning the Indian Border Troops’ Crossing of the China-India Boundary in the Sikkim Sector into the Chinese Territory.” (Xinhua/QuZhendong)

China released a statement on Wednesday on the illegal entry of Indian troops in Chinese territory, vowing to take all necessary measures to protect its legitimate and lawful rights and interests.

Experts said the Chinese foreign ministry statement indicates an escalation of tensions, warning that military conflict is one step closer.

“The China-Bhutan boundary issue is one between China and Bhutan. It has nothing to do with India,” according to a statement the ministry released on Wednesday entitled “The Facts and China’s Position Concerning the Indian Border Troops’ Crossing of the China-India Boundary in the Sikkim Sector into the Chinese Territory.”

As a third party, India has no right to interfere in boundary talks between China and Bhutan, not to mention making territorial claims on Bhutan’s behalf, it read.

Foreign ministry spokesperson GengShuang said Wednesday that China released the document to “lay out the facts of the illegal trespass of Indian border troops to the international community and give a full account of the position of the Chinese government,” the Xinhua News Agency reported.

“What India has done not only severely violates China’s territorial sovereignty but also poses a grave challenge to regional peace and stability and the international order, which will not be tolerated by any sovereign state,” Geng said.

“The foreign ministry document shows that the crisis on the China-India border has reached a crucial moment,” Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The document has clarified China’s bottom lines as well as the current situation. If Indian troops continue to stay in Chinese territory, the defense ministry may issue a warning next time, and then a military conflict would just be around the corner, Zhao added.

The foreign ministry statement said that “since the incident began, China has shown utmost goodwill and great restraint, and sought to communicate with India through diplomatic channels to resolve the incident. But no country should ever underestimate the resolve of the Chinese government and people to defend China’s territorial sovereignty.”

China will take all necessary measures to protect its legitimate and lawful rights and interests. The incident took place on the Chinese side of the delimited boundary, it said.

Three photos were attached to the statement, showing the illegal trespass of Indian troops.

The ministry said that on June 16, 2017, the Chinese side was building a road in the Donglang area. Two days later, over 270 armed Indian border troops, accompanied by two bulldozers, crossed the boundary in the Sikkim Sector at the Duo Ka La (Doka La) Pass and advanced more than 100 meters into Chinese territory to block the construction on the Chinese side.

“The standoff has not been resolved because China and India see the incident from different perspectives. China was building a road, but India considers it a big threat to its national security,” Zhao said.

“However, if the current political conflict leads to a military one, China and India would face a very tough situation. Since people of both countries are tremendously patriotic, even economic cooperation between the two countries would be heavily affected,” Zhao noted.

As of July, there were still over 40 Indian border troops and one bulldozer illegally staying on Chinese territory, Xinhua reported.

India at losing end

“The longer the standoff lasts between China and India, the worse it will be for India, and the situation could even affect the BRICS summit in September,” Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

“If Indian Prime Minister NarendraModi refuses to come to Xiamen for the BRICS summit, India will be in a more inferior position,” Hu further noted.

“Each time China and India talk, India would seek to use the border issue to haggle,” Hu said, noting that India should drop its “immature strategic anxiety” toward China’s development.Source: People’s Daily and Global Times

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Mareeg senior news editor since 2001 and he can be reached at news@mareeg.com