NEW DELHI: A day after China warned India that it will offer “no compromise” on the stand-off at the Sikkim border, its state-run media declared that Delhi should either withdraw its troops “with dignity or be kicked out”.
The papers that served up new rhetoric about the 20-day-old dispute include the state-run Global Times which said in an editorial that India will confront “greater losses” than in the 1962 war if it “incites” border clashes with China.” The paper also urged that India “should be taught a bitter lesson.”
“We believe the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is powerful enough to expel Indian troops out of Chinese territory. The Indian military can choose to return to its territory with dignity, or be kicked out of the area by Chinese soldiers,” the editorial said.
The stand-off began on June 6 on a plateau next to Sikkim. China claims that Indian troops crossed into China’s Donglang region (Doka La is the Indian name for the region) and obstructed work on a road on the plateau. India has said that the road is a serious “security concern” and that the area that China is claiming as its own is disputed by Bhutan as its territory.
Bhutan is given diplomatic and military support by India.
Strategically, the remote area that is now hosting the tension is key because it is the narrow sliver of land that connects India’s seven northeastern states to the rest of the country – the region is called the “chicken’s neck”. Sikkim is wedged between Nepal, Bhutan and China.
Yesterday, the Chinese ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, said in atypically blunt remarks that a pre-condition to any resolution to the stand-off is that India must pull back its troops.
China insists that it has every right to build the road and that it controls the territory under an 1890 accord made with Britain when it was a colonial power in the region. But Bhutan was not a party to that accord.
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley last week said that the India of today is not the same as that of 1962, a retort to China stating that India would do well to remember the “historic lessons” of its defeat in the war fought over Arunachal Pradesh.
“If New Delhi believes that its military might can be used as leverage in the Donglang area (referred to as Dokalam or Dok La), and it is ready for a two-and-a-half front war, we have to tell India that the Chinese look down on their military power,” said the Global Times, referring to Army Chief General Bipin Rawat stating that India “was ready for a two-and-a-half front War.”