06/09/2020, 14.52
INDIA – CHINA
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Delhi and Beijing seeking a peaceful solution to Himalayan border disputes

Indian and Chinese Military leaders met on Saturday to “peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas,” India’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. But for the Global Times, “the ongoing standoff is not likely to end immediately, as concrete issues must still be resolved."

Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Military leaders from India and China met on Saturday to "peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas," India’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The reference is to a dispute over one of the longest land borders in the world, in the Himalaya, with New Delhi and Beijing accusing each other of breaching the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that separates the two countries.

The area has long been disputed, with violence flaring up on several occasions, following the bloody war of 1962.

To this day, what is happening on the ground in the highly militarised region remains unclear, in part because the main battleground of this 21st century conflict has mainly been that of propaganda, news leaks and aggressive media posturing.

Prior to Saturday's meeting, Chinese media aired footage of China’s People's Liberation Army (PLA) manoeuvres in the region - complete with planes and troop-carrying lorries, in what state media described as "demonstrating China’s capability of quickly reinforcing border defences when necessary.”

Unconfirmed - and in some cases debunked - videos have also been circulating on Chinese and Indian social media, purportedly showing troop incursions and scuffles between soldiers.

An analyst in the Hindustan Times on Sunday wrote that Chinese reports on PLA manoeuvres were part of a "disinformation campaign" designed to weaken Indian resolve and “overwhelm the enemy into panic so that his capacity to negotiate is weakened.”

Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have built up   public support by exploiting nationalism and promising a future of greatness. This has often resulted in aggressive rhetoric, particularly when playing to a home audience.

This is certainly the case of Chinese coverage of PLA manoeuvres in the Himalaya. Likewise, despite Delhi's statements to ease tensions, leading Indian government officials struck an aggressive tone on Monday.

At a rally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah said that "any intrusion into the borders of India will be punished.”

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also spoke on Monday, noting that "I would remind everyone, India's leadership will not let our self-respect suffer. India's policy is clear, we won't hurt any country's integrity and dignity. At the same time, we will not let any country to hurt our integrity."

Such statements come amid growing pressure from Indian opposition parties to take a stronger stance.

In a piece in today’s Global Times republished by the official PLA website, military analysts are cited as saying that "the ongoing standoff is not likely to end immediately, as concrete issues must still be resolved."

It is unclear how the problem can really be solved since it goes back decades and is largely fuelled by the refusal of both sides to accept the other’s territorial claims.

With both sides accusing each other of breaching the LAC, tensions intensified in late May with each boosting its military positions on the de facto border.

“A 'status quo ante' will require that Chinese soldiers vacate areas where they have dug in for weeks now,” writes The Hindu.

“Nothing short of their full withdrawal should satisfy India,” the paper goes on say. This “means that more than talks on the ground and by diplomats” are needed.

Indeed, “strong political direction from Beijing to the PLA to do that” is required. “Otherwise, India must prepare for a long-drawn stand-off, and manoeuvres aimed at ensuring China's pull back."

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