Amid calls for war by the state-run media, China on Monday accused India of lying to the public on the border row and again warned New Delhi to withdraw troops to “avoid worsening of the situation.”
As Beijing raised the decibel over the latest border stand-off in the Sikkim sector, it also hinted that the development could derail the boundary talks.
China also said India had “trampled upon” the Panchsheel pact by illegally entering into Chinese territory.
Not mincing his words, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the nature of the stand-off in Doklam was “serious” and repeatedly asked New Delhi to withdraw troops from the area.
He also indicated that Beijing could issue a travel alert to its citizens visiting Indian depending on the security situation.
Adding to the heightened tensions and talk of war, in its sharpest comment since Indian and Chinese troops scuffled in Doklam, state-run Global Times said China must teach India “a bitter lesson”.
In an editorial, the Chinese Communist Party-run newspaper said China will inflict greater losses on India than in the 1962 war if New Delhi incited military conflict.
It also said Indians will be “kicked out” of Doklam by the Chinese military.
“We call on Chinese society to maintain high-level unity on the issue. The more unified the Chinese people are, the more sufficient conditions the professionals will have to fight against India and safeguard our interests. This time, we must teach New Delhi a bitter lesson,” the editorial said.
In his briefing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that India had “misguided” its public about the proximity of Doklam to India.
Geng said Doklam, which the Chinese refer to as Donglong, is not at the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan as claimed by New Delhi.
“In disregard of the 1890 Sino-Britain convention, the Indian side said that Doklam is located within the tri-junction of the three countries, that is misleading the public,” Geng said.
“The Indian side is actually misleading the public by saying that the incident took place at the tri-junction point,” he added.
India has opposed China’s road construction in Doklam, which is a disputed territory between Thimphu and Beijing.
Beijing says the road building is on Chinese territory. Bhutan has opposed it, and says the ownership of Doklam is yet to be decided.
Geng said the present stand-off could hit border talks between India and China.
“Actually we have been trying to explore ways to resolve the boundary questions with the Special Representative mechanism.”
“But this incident I believe violates the spirit upheld by the Special Representative Mechanism and also is in contrast to the efforts made by the two sides previously,” he said.
There have been 19 rounds of talks under the Special Representatives mechanism since 2003.
Accusing India of dumping the Panchsheel, he said: “As we all know, China, India and Myanmar in the 1950s jointly proposed five principles of peaceful coexistence (Panchsheel).
“However, to the surprise of everyone, the Indian side has trampled on the basic norms of international relations that were proposed by itself by illegally crossing into others’ territory,” Geng added.
Geng reiterated that withdrawal of troops by India from the Doklam was a precondition for dialogue between both sides.
Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a stand-off in Doklam on the Sikkim sector since the middle of June.
India has said Beijing’s action to “unilaterally determine tri-junction points” is in violation of a 2012 India-China agreement. According to the agreement, the boundary will be decided by consulting all the concerned parties.
The two countries share a little over 200 km of border in the Sikkim sector.
Following the face-off, China last week suspended the pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet where Indians travel via the Nathu La Pass, which has been shut.
India has told China that the building of a road by Chinese troops in the Donglong region will have “serious security implications for India” and urged Beijing “not to change the status quo unilaterally”.
~ Gaurav Sharma