China and India Dangerously Close To Military Conflict

Last Updated: Thursday, August 17, 2017, 01:02
China and India Dangerously Close To Military Conflict
For the past two months, Indian and Chinese troops have faced off on a plateau in the Himalayas in tense proximity, in a dispute prompted by moves by the Chinese military to build a road into territory claimed by India`s close ally, Bhutan.

India has suggested that both sides withdraw, and its foreign minister said in Parliament that the dispute can be resolved only by dialogue. Yet China has defended the right it claims to build a road in the Doklam area.

Since the dispute began, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has issued an angry stream of almost daily denunciations of India and its "illegal trespass" and "recklessness," along with demands that New Delhi withdraw its troops "if it cherishes peace."

Incursions and scuffles between the two countries have long occurred along India and China`s 2,220-mile border - much of which remains in dispute - although the respective militaries have not fired shots at each other in a half-century.

Analysts say that this most recent dispute is more worrisome because it comes at a time when relations between the two nuclear-armed powers are declining, with China framing the issue as a direct threat to its territorial integrity. For the first time, such a conflict involves a third country - the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

Indian and Chinese patrols jostled each other and exchanged blows Tuesday morning by a lake in the Ladakh region of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, according to local reports.

The incident began in mid-June, when a crew from the People`s Liberation Army, the PLA, entered a remote plateau - populated largely by Bhutanese shepherds - with earth-moving and other equipment and "attempted to build a road," India`s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

They were confronted by a Royal Bhutan Army patrol; Indian soldiers pitched tents there two days later. India and Bhutan - a country of just under 800,000 - have long had a special relationship that includes military support and $578 million in aid to Bhutan.

India says the road would have moved Chinese troops closer to India`s strategically important Siliguri Corridor, known as the Chicken`s Neck, the narrow stretch of land that separates India`s northeast from the rest of the country.

China asserted that more than 270 Indian border troops, carrying weapons and driving two bulldozers, "flagrantly crossed the boundary" and advanced about 100 yards into Chinese territory.

But he found Chinese President Xi Jinping to be an unreliable partner, as China blocked India`s application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group and blocked efforts to declare Pakistani militant Masood Azhar a terrorist at the United Nations.

When China`s sweeping Belt and Road development initiative added an economic corridor through parts of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the tensions rose sharply. Modi snubbed a major summit in Beijing that launched the Belt and Road plan this year.

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