Amid the ongoing Indo-China border standoff, the Global Times, a government-run Chinese media outlet, published an opinion piece Wednesday reminding India of the 1962 war between the two countries. It also talked about “teaching New Delhi a bitter lesson.”
The editorial said India would suffer greater losses than it did in 1962, if it incited conflict. Referring to a comment by India’s Defense Minister Arun Jaitely, the report said, “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.”
The current border standoff between the two countries in a disputed region in Bhutan has continued for more than 20 days. The controversy began when India opposed China’s plan to extend a border road through a disputed plateau which Bhutan recognizes as Doklam, while China claims it’s a part of its Donglang region.
Last week, India issued a statement that the Chinese road building action was in violation of a 2012 agreement requiring trilateral consultation.
Commenting on the standoff, the editorial also stated, “We firmly believe that the face-off in the Donglang area will end up with the Indian troops in retreat. The Indian military can choose to return to its territory with dignity, or be kicked out of the area by Chinese soldiers.” The two nations fought a brief but bitter war in 1962. Border disputes in several areas like Aksai Chin, Depsang Plains and some areas in the northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, have remained unresolved following the war. The Depsang Plains are located on the border of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and the disputed zone of Aksai Chin.
India and Bhutan have historically maintained strong relations. The Indian Army is involved in training the Royal Bhutan Army, while Bhutan cooperates closely with India in determining its foreign policy.
India has expressed concern that the road, if completed, would make it easier for China to access India’s northeastern states. In the event of a conflict, India fears this would help China cut off its northeast from the rest of the country. The foreign ministry of India issued a statement June 30 saying the construction “would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for India,” BBC reported.
However, according to the Chinese officials, Indian border guards have obstructed “normal activities” on the Chinese side by opposing the road construction. Reports suggest both India and China rushed their troops to the region as the standoff began. China also retaliated by stopping 57 Indian pilgrims, who were on their way to the Manas Sarovar Lake — a Hindu pilgrim site in Tibet via the Nathu La pass in India’s northeastern state of Sikkim. Both countries have signed a formal agreement to allow the pilgrims to visit the holy site.
In a formal statement issued June 29, Bhutan also accused China of constructing a road “inside Bhutanese territory” and called it a “direct violation” of its territorial treaty obligations. China, which does not have formal diplomatic ties with Bhutan, denied the allegations about violating any treaties. “Doklam has been a part of China since ancient times. It does not belong to Bhutan, still less India,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said Wedneday.
“China’s construction of road in Doklam is an act of sovereignty on its own territory. It is completely justified and lawful, and others have no right to interfere,” the statement further read. The region also saw clashes between China and India in 1967. The fact that Tibet’s spiritual leader Dalai Lama resides in India has also been a sticking point between the two countries.
India and China share a border that extends 2,174 miles.