China-India border dispute

China is being ‘unusually aggressive’ in border row

Indian diplomat adds that New Delhi wants diplomatic settlement to dispute involving Bhutan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 July, 2017, 4:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 July, 2017, 11:13pm

A top Indian diplomat said China is being unusually aggressive in a month-old border dispute with India that shows no sign of easing, media reports said yesterday.

Beijing has given virtually daily warnings to its neighbour over the deadlock on a remote Himalayan plateau, where Indian and Chinese troops have been in a tense face-off.

Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told lawmakers in a closed briefing on the dispute that India wanted a diplomatic settlement, the reports said.

“Jaishankar told us that China’s aggression and rhetoric on the recent stand-off is unusual,” said a member of the parliamentary panel at Tuesday’s briefing.

“We will continue to engage with them through diplomatic channels,” the foreign ministry number two was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.

The dispute concerns land near where the boundaries of China, India and Bhutan meet. China has alleged that Indian troops are on its territory. Bhutan and India say the area – known as the Doklam Plateau in India and Donglang to China – is Bhutanese.

Bhutan has no diplomatic relations with China and is closely allied to India, which says its troops approached a Chinese army unit that entered the zone on June 16 to build a road. Beijing has said it would hold talks with New Delhi only after Indian troops were withdrawn from the disputed territory.

China and India have a number of border disputes, although the section currently in question is generally regarded as stable.

The two fought a border war in 1962 in Arunachal Pradesh.

In 2014, hundreds of Indian and Chinese troops faced off on the de facto border known as the Line of Actual Control that runs along the northwestern Indian region of Ladakh.

On Tuesday, an Indian junior home minister, Kiren Rijiju, told parliament that 73 new roads with “operational significance” were being constructed by India along the border, with 30 completed so far.

The latest dispute has triggered international concern, with the visiting Australian foreign minister urging the neighbours to resolve the row amicably.

“We don’t want to see any escalation of tensions that could lead to miscalculation and misjudgement,” Julie Bishop said on Wednesday.

The US State Department has called on the two nations to come up with “some sort of arrangement” for peace.

Long Xinchun, a South Asian affairs analyst from China West Normal University, said Beijing needed to tighten the pressure on India and at the same time seek international support.

“If India does not withdraw its soldiers, Beijing might beef up military forces on the border, and skirmishes cannot be excluded,” he said.

“At present, the best face-saving way out for China, India and Bhutan is that Bhutan asks Indian forces to leave and China temporarily stops building roads in Donglang.”

Dai Fan, an Asian affairs specialist from Jinan University in Guangzhou, said Beijing should increase its military build-up in the area to deter Indian soldiers.

Additional reporting by Kristin Huang