While the world's eyes are focused on Syria, Russia, Ukraine, and North Korea; there is another - much more tense - fight between two nuclear powers that is getting far too little attention. The world's two most populous nations, China and India, have been engaged in a border dispute for decades but in recent months it has flared once again with a Chinese Ministry of Defense official now warning explicitly that Indian troops must leave the contested Doklam area if they do not want war.
The latest standoff started more than a month ago after Chinese troops started building a road on a remote plateau, which is disputed by China and Bhutan. Indian troops countered by moving to the flashpoint zone to halt the work, with China accusing them of violating its territorial sovereignty and calling for their immediate withdrawal.
China then added a large number of troops to the region:
"The crossing of the mutually recognised national borders on the part of India... is a serious violation of China's territory and runs against the international law," Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a press conference quoted by AFP, adding that "the determination and the willingness and the resolve of China to defend its sovereignty is indomitable, and it will safeguard its sovereignty and security interests at whatever cost."
He also said that "border troops have taken emergency response measures in the area and will further step up deployment and trainings in response to the situation," without giving any details about the deployment.
And now, as RT reports, during a heated TV debate between a retired Indian Army major general and now defense commentator, Ashok Mehta, and the director of the Chinese Defense Ministry’s Center for International Security Cooperation, Senior Colonel Zhou Bo; tempers frayed.
Speaking first, Mehta fired off a lengthy yet passionate tirade, accusing the Chinese of fanning anti-Indian sentiments in an overly aggressive way.
“Chinese media, think tanks, Xinhua, Global Times, PLA Daily have written the most aggressive and most belligerent stories about threatening India, taking India to war, opening a two-front conflict, teaching India a lesson,” the former general complained.
“I mean, that kind of language is not being used in India!” Mehta added.
Asked by the news anchor if he could provide any proof and name specific Chinese articles featuring warmongering rhetoric, the Indian expert failed to cite any, but instead recalled his professional background.
“General, you have been talking too much! This is not the right way of having this conversation,”
“Let me just use a few seconds – you [Indian troops] are on Chinese territory, so if you do not want a war, you’ve got to go away from Chinese territory,” the senior colonel remarked.
In a statement on Wednesday, Beijing said Indian troops were still present on Chinese territory, and that China had acted cautiously, demanding that Delhi pull out its forces.
"But the Indian side not only has not taken any actual steps to correct its mistake, it has concocted all sorts of reasons that don't have a leg to stand on, to make up excuses for the Indian military's illegal crossing of the border,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, as cited by Reuters.
As we noted previously, this isn’t the first time that these two nations have been at each other’s throats over their borders. In 1962 their armies clashed, leading to defeat of the Indian army, and thousands of casualties on both sides. Based on the rhetoric coming out of Beijing’s state sponsored media, it appears that China is willing to replicate that conflict.