State Media Fires Up China-India Standoff

Media reports coming out of China and India seem to be encouraging their nations to stand their ground and honor their people as Beijing and Delhi engage in a heated dispute along the Doklam border.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang during a press briefing on Tuesday warned India to withdraw its troops in order to avoid “further escalating the situation.” State media reported on Monday that China engaged in fire drills in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau close to the border to improve the “combat capability in such locations.”

Media reports from both sides are urging leaders to protect the “sovereignty” and “honor” of their respective nations.

An op-ed in the Global Times warned India to pull out or “face the consequence of an all-out confrontation.” It also cited unconfirmed Indian press reports which noted that Indian troops had set up logistical support in the border area. “In response, China must continue strengthening border construction and speed up troop deployment and construction in the Doklam area,” read the op-ed.

Conflict between the two nations has not occurred since 1962 when they engaged in a bloody border war. However, some analysts say it is a possibility to see one again.

“Unlike flashpoints in the South and East China Seas, a small conflict with India can be better contained because it is less likely to draw the involvement of other major powers in the region (such as the US),” says Yvonne Chiu, assistant professor at the Department of Politics at the University of Hong Kong.

However, it appears diplomatic avenues to a solution are still open. The Indian government on Friday set up an all-party meeting to discuss the matter.

“All military forces must be prepared for a range of contingencies and we are seeing that, but there is also a good deal of alarmism,” said Brookings India Fellow Dhruva Jaishankar. “There has not been a death on the India-China border for forty years, and both sides have learned from experience as to how to manage their differences.”

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