CHINA MAY USE MILITARY OPERATION TO REMOVE INDIAN TROOPS FROM BHUTAN BORDER REGION
08 AUGUST 2017 – China could conduct a “small-scale military operation” to expel Indian troops from a contested region in the Himalayas, according to an article published a Chinese state-controlled newspaper.
Indian troops entered the area in the Doklam Plateau in June after New Delhi’s ally Bhutan complained a Chinese military construction party was building a road inside Bhutan’s territory.
Beijing says Doklam is located in Tibet and that the border dispute between China and Bhutan has nothing to do with India. It has demanded Indian troops withdraw.
Chinese and Indian media have taken a strident approach, with an article in the Chinese state-owned Global Times quoting a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences saying China is preparing to initiate a “limited war” to push Indian soldiers out of the area.
Hu Zhiyong told the paper: “The series of remarks from the Chinese side within a 24-hour period sends a signal to India that there is no way China will tolerate the Indian troops’ incursion into Chinese territory for too long.
“If India refuses to withdraw, China may conduct a small-scale military operation within two weeks.”
He went on to say the military operation would aim to seize Indian personnel lingering in Chinese territory or expel them.
“India, which has stirred up the incident, should bear all the consequences,” he added. “And no matter how the standoff ends, Sino-Indian ties have been severely damaged and strategic distrust will linger.”
An Indian magazine’s front cover last month showed a map of China shorn of Tibet and self-ruled Taiwan also ignited public anger on Chinese social media with thousands of angry posts.
The Indian government has asked political parties to refrain from politicising the issue and allow diplomacy to work.
Last week, China ramped up the rhetoric with China Central Television broadcasting a video it said showed an army unit in an unidentified part of Tibet carrying out live-fire firing exercises in the past few days.
A commander sitting in a vehicle shouted “Three, two, one, fire!” into two telephones and a missile was launched into the sky. Troops were shown loading and firing other missiles, some of which landed in fiery explosions.
The report, which was also carried in other state media, didn’t mention the dispute with India, and said the unit has been training for three months.
It appeared to be an attempt to increase pressure on India, however, along with strongly worded statements this week from China’s foreign and defence ministries, as well as in state media.
“China has made it clear that there is no room for negotiation and the only solution is the unconditional and immediate withdrawal of Indian troops from the region,” said a commentary by the official Xinhua News Agency.
“If China backs down now, India may be emboldened to make more trouble in the future,” it added.
The two sides’ troops are confronting each other close to a valley controlled by China that separates India from its close ally, Bhutan, and gives China access to the Siliguri Corridor or Chicken’s Neck, a thin strip of land connecting India and its remote northeastern regions.
In New Delhi, Sushma Swaraj, the minister for external affairs, told Parliament India was concerned about China’s actions affecting the tri-junction boundary point between Bhutan, China and India as well as the India-China border.
She said India would “keep engaging with China to resolve the dispute.”
“War is not a solution to anything,” Ms Swaraj said. “Patience, control on comments and diplomacy can resolve problems.”
Most previous standoffs, such as one in 2014 just ahead of a rare trip to India for President Xi Jinping, were resolved with both sides withdrawing their forces.
There has been no shooting since a brief border war in 1962.
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