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Sushma Swaraj ‘lied’ in Parliament on border standoff, says China’s Global Times

LiveMint logoLiveMint 21-07-2017 Elizabeth Roche

NEW DELHI: No country supports India’s “aggression” vis-a-vis China in the Dokalam region at the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan, a Chinese state-run news website said in a commentary on Friday, warning that if the standoff were to be resolved by military means, India would lose to superior Chinese military might.

In what is seen as a counter to Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj telling Parliament on Thursday that “India’s position is not wrong on the tri-junction and all nations are with it. The law is with our country”, China’s Global Times on Friday accused Swaraj of “lying” to Parliament.

“First, India’s invasion of Chinese territory is a plain fact. New Delhi’s impetuous action stuns the international community. No other country will support India’s aggression. Second, India’s military strength is far behind that of China. If the conflict between China and India escalates to the intensity where their row has to be resolved through military means, India will surely lose,” it said.

India and China have a dispute over their boundaries dating back to the 1962 war and are in talks to resolve their differences. Tensions between the neighbours have been high for the past month with Chinese troops trying to construct a road on the Dokalam plateau in Bhutan that the Bhutanese objected to. Indian troops stationed in Bhutan under a special security arrangement have intervened to keep Chinese troops at bay, triggering the face-off.

Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognizes as Dokalam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region. Of the 3,488-km India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim.

In its commentary, the Global Times said: “India should abandon the fantasy of a long-term standoff at Dokalam. China will by no means agree to the withdrawal of troops in order for talks to be held. Dokalam is Chinese territory. The withdrawal of Indian troops must be a precondition for talks and China will not compromise on this stance.”

“China has reiterated its stance on the issue and shown the utmost tolerance and patience toward India. If Indian troops continue trespassing into China’s territory, what Beijing may do next is to get prepared for a military confrontation against New Delhi and resolve the conflict through non-diplomatic means,” it warned.

Referring to the Chinese troops’ exercises in the Tibet region, near the disputed Dokalam plateau, the Global Times commentary warned that “these are certainly not for show”.

“China cannot afford to lose an inch of territory. This is the sacred wish and request of the Chinese people. The Chinese government will not breach the fundamental will of the people and the PLA will not let the Chinese people down,” it said.

“If New Delhi remains stubborn, India should get prepared for all possibilities from a potentially grave escalation of tension in the future,” it warned. Back in 1962, India had “underestimated China’s resolution to safeguard its territory,” the commentary said, referring to the brief but bloody conflict between the Asian giants. “We hope India won’t repeat this mistake,” it said.

Meanwhile, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters overnight in Washington on Friday that the US is “closely and carefully” following the border standoff between India and China.

“This is a situation that we are following closely and carefully. I’d have to refer you to the governments of India and China for more information on that,” Nauert said, adding: “(And) they’re going to talk to one another.”

This was a reference to a visit by India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval to Beijing for a meeting of the national security advisors from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa on 27-28 July.

“We would encourage them to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tensions,” Nauert said.

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