It is laughable that the Chinese side should object to the Indian protests over their road-building, if there was any.
The faceoff between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Doka La area (in Sikkim) of the India-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction, ongoing since late last week, showed no signs of abating on Tuesday as the Chinese foreign ministry angrily held Indian soldiers responsible for the impasse. India’s external affairs ministry is yet to go on record, suggesting it may not be interested in ratcheting up a war of words as it seeks a behind-the-scenes working dialogue with Beijing. This is a mature approach. In an interview, Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat has also sought to downplay the friction, saying Chinese soldiers had not crossed the Line of Actual Control at Nathu-La Pass, although this has been the narrative in our media.
Where, then, is the problem?
It is Beijing’s case that Indian soldiers crossed the LAC to obstruct Chinese road-building near the perceived border. Quoting sources, the Indian media reported that Chinese soldiers had crossed over to the Indian side and broke up soldiers’ bunkers. Our soldiers had to form a human wall to prevent the situation deteriorating, but there was pushing and shoving and scuffling.
An angry Beijing has stopped Indian pilgrims going to Mansarovar through the motorable Nathu-La route until the security situation improves. This is understandable. Civilians should not hang around if the border is tense.
However, Beijing could have avoided abrasiveness in its approach. Of late it has been feeding the Communist Party’s English daily Global Times, which has emerged as a vehicle of crass propaganda, and raising the pitch when there is the smallest difference of perception.
It is laughable that the Chinese side should object to the Indian protests over their road-building, if there was any. We have seen lately that scarcely a day passes when the Chinese do not shoot off statements warning India not to build roads and bridges on its own side of the border. China is a powerful country. It does not behove it to act so insecure.
The equilibrium in Sino-Indian relations has been disturbed in recent times. New Delhi is upset with Beijing for blocking, at Pakistan’s behest, the Indian request at the UN to declare Pakistani terrorist Masood Azhar a global terrorist so that he may be sanctioned. India is also unhappy that China is using its veto against India joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Lately, China has also got rattled by the Indian opposition to One-Belt-One-Road, its geopolitical leverage-seeking effort through infrastructure-building. With the United States agreeing with India that connectivity should not mean transgressing the sovereignty of nations (as China’s road-building is doing in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir), the Chinese appear even more bitter.
Let the two foreign ministries find less dramatic ways to talk things over instead of plastering the media with propaganda.