The Chinese foreign minister released an official statement Wednesday alleging Indian border incursion into Chinese territory, providing purported photo evidence. It was the strongest sign yet that Beijing is drawing a red line that Indian forces must respect China’s border claims, or else.
First Post published an English translation of the full statement.
On Chinese television, pundits talked about the chances that the People’s Liberation Army will resort to use of force on the issue. Focus Today, a show which holds panel discussions on international relations and security issues, usually choosing different topics each day, has been focused almost exclusively on the Sikkim standoff for weeks even as North Korea tensions grow.
Commentator on China’s state-run CCTV, Teng Jianqun, answered an audience email question about the chances of China using force to resolve the Sikkim standoff:
In the 1962 situation we held back for 3 years, in the end India still continued to provoke China, we had no choice but to fight back, but afterwards [China] still returned to its own territory. These actions showed China’s great responsibility as a powerful country, but I think it’s still hard for India to break old habits.
This behavior, in terms of the how the whole situation is developing, will bring extremely serious consequences. [India] may not have considered these consequences. They may still feel as though their own military power is not so bad, and there are more than 100,000 troops amassed on their border, while on China’s side troop numbers are relatively sparse.
That type of conclusion, I think, would bring danger, but should we resort to force, both sides would have to take responsibility for consequences. Also, if we look at the 1962 conflict all the way until today India is still holding this grudge.
The statement released by the foreign ministry is perhaps the clearest signal given yet that Beijing is drawing a line in the sand. The standoff in Doka La is several miles south of where India puts the tri-border with China, but several miles north of Gamochen, where Beijing puts the border, as Jeff Smith wrote last month.