Sikkim standoff: Newspapers from India, China and Pakistan adopt contradictory stands on border row

The Sikkim standoff between India and China continues. After Beijing accused New Delhi of "trampling" on the Panchsheel principles and demanded withdrawal of Indian troops from the area, the latter refused to respond. Meanwhile, newspapers in India, China and Pakistan and China struck wildly different notes.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

An op-ed in The Pioneer stated that Beijing was hurting the bilateral relationship by refusing to show flexibility. "The Chinese Ambassador to India, Luo Zhaoui, says the the ball is in India's court and it is up to New Delhi to decide if it desires a military solution to the crisis. This is being disingenuous. Indian troops didn't enter Chinese territory, but it's the other way round. Moreover, the Chinese Army also intruded into Bhutan's territory, and the Bhutanese Army personnel were compelled to confront the intruders," the op-ed stated.

Taking a somewhat balanced view of the matter, the op-ed chided both sides for hyping up the situation and hoped that an amicable solution is reached.

"The Chinese media is over-hyping the situation — even the Indian media is not averse to it, admittedly — and baying for India's blood. References to the 1962 war have made the situation more complex. The Indian side was forced to respond to this remembrance by pointing out that the India of 2017 is not the India of 1962, and this led to a retort from the other side that even China of 2017 was not the same. Additionally, an article posted by a strategic affairs expert, on a Chinese military website, sought to remind India that the People's Liberation Army would have the upper hand in case the confrontation escalated to a military response from both sides. All this tit-for-tat leads us nowhere. Hopefully, sensible minds on both sides will take over," the op-ed stated.

Pakistan's The Tribune, on the other hand, offered up a quick history lesson: "The territory where the road work is being carried out is a part of Chinese territory — and the treaty signed by China and Britain in 1890 does recognise that fact. Beijing has also contested Delhi’s claim that the move would gradually block Delhi’s access to seven of its northeastern states. The two countries have been at loggerheads over the land border for decades. Interestingly the current dispute is technically more of a dispute between Bhutan and China than India and China. But since India has a military presence in Bhutan it finds itself in the eye of the storm. Though Bhutan is closely allied with India, it has no formal diplomatic relations with China."

The Tribune also called for reconciliation between the India and China before events escalate. "The row appears to be quite serious and comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with China's President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Germany. Before the situation gets out of hand the diplomatic and military authorities of the two countries ought to find an amicable solution. Fast."

China's Xinhua news agency blamed the situation on the "economic anxieties" of certain Indian politicians, and cautioned India that such a mindset could hurt its interests. "Harbouring suspicion and apprehension toward China's intention, India has recently decided to stay away from the China-proposed 'Belt and Road Initiative', citing sovereignty concerns as its main reason. The reason raised by India may be understandable, but staying away from the initiative is not the best choice New Delhi could have made. It could have voiced its concerns and opinions on public occasions or in official statements as China is always willing to discuss all problems and possibilities with India on the basis of mutual benefits."

It also advised the Indian government to look at the larger picture. "Despite its strategic discomfort, it is important for India to get over its "China anxiety" and carefully assess the initiative, recognise its potential benefits and seize the opportunities. Instead of being rivals, the two countries, both of which are ancient civilizations endowed with a rich history, could become cooperative partners."

Meanwhile, China on Thursday claimed the "atmosphere" was "not right" for a bilateral meeting between Modi and Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg. There were reports that Modi and Xi may meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit to resolve the standoff.

China's state-run media had on Wednesday quoted analysts as saying that Beijing would be forced to use a "military way" to end the standoff in the Sikkim sector if India refuses to listen to the "historical lessons" being offered by it.

Updated Date: Jul 06, 2017 18:48 PM

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