The fighting between China and India that killed at least 20 Indian soldiers in the Himalayan region of Ladakh has led to anger and outrage in India. China, for its part, demands appeasment.
The contrast is striking. India, shocked by the deadly military conflict in the Himalayas that caused the deaths of at least 20 of its soldiers, dedicated the event to one of its newspapers while the coronavirus epidemic is still raging in the country.
However, no word on this collision was reported in Chinese media, but China said only on Wednesday, June 17, in the hope of a calming with India, following a murderous incident that opposed the two Asian giants on their disputed border with the Himalayas.
“On the Chinese side, we really don’t want to see any more conflicts” with India, assured a press spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian. The latter called on India to avoid “provocative gestures” that could aggravate the situation.
🇨🇳⚡️🇮🇳 India says three of its soldiers have died in conflicts with China. The kind of event that can quickly get out of hand … It has been several weeks since tensions have risen at the Sino-Indian borders without arousing much media interest. 🤦🏼♂️ https://t.co/X5ELchUqfw
– Antoine Bondaz (@AntoineBondaz) June 16, 2020
New Delhi and Beijing blame each other for the deadly confrontation, the first in 45 years between the two most populous nations on the planet. India has mentioned the victims “on both sides”, but China has silenced any victims in its ranks.
The two armies have been involved for several weeks in face-to-face meetings stretching along their disputed border, mainly in Ladakh, and have sent thousands of reinforcements. Ten days ago, they had agreed to step down in some of the disputed areas.
“The provocation is serious”
The confrontation made headlines in Indian newspapers on Wednesday and even replaced the coronavirus pandemic that is raging in the country. “The provocation is serious,” says the daily IndianExpress in its editorial urging India to “keep a cool head” and “respond with calm thinking and an iron will.”
New Delhi must “be prepared for escalation” but “be aware of what it means for the future,” writes the newspaper. Some ultra-nationalist TV channels praise the fallen “martyrs” and use the hashtag #ChineMustPay (#LaChineDoitPayer).
🇮🇳 / 🇨🇳 TENSIONS: Outstanding military confrontation since 1975 between India and China.
20 Indian soldiers were killed at the Sino-Indian border. China has accused India of being responsible for the incident by crossing the disputed border twice. (AFP). pic.twitter.com/IY77QCCHJH
– French information (@InfosFrancaises) June 16, 2020
Conversely, on the other side of the Himalayas, the main Chinese national television newspaper did not say a word about the border incident on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, several Chinese newspapers have the pleasure of publishing on their website, but not in print, the statement from the Ministry of Defense urging India to exercise restraint.
In an editorial, the Nationalist daily Global Times, published in Chinese and English, explains that Beijing refuses to communicate the number of Chinese victims “in order to avoid comparisons and prevent an escalation of the confrontation feeling”.
The UN appeals for calm
On Tuesday, the two Asian capitals reiterated their resolve to resolve this crisis through diplomatic channels, a “peaceful solution” also sought by the UN and Washington.
“We are far from the Second World War, but it is an explosive and dangerous situation between two nationalist nuclear forces at a time when American influence has diminished significantly,” said AbrahamDenmark, director of the Asia Program for the American Thought Template. Wilson Center.
India and China have had several long-standing territorial disputes in the Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh areas (east).
Confrontations in mountain areas between Indian and Chinese armies have become more common in recent years, which the Trump administration interprets as a sign of increased Chinese aggression in Asia.
In early May, collisions with punches, stones and sticks had particularly opposed soldiers from the two countries of the Sikkim region (east of India) and caused several injuries.
Chinese troops had also advanced to areas considered by India to be in its territory in Ladakh, prompting New Delhi to send reinforcements to the region.
The previously deadly switch between the Indian and Chinese military dates back to 1975, when four Indian soldiers lost their lives in Arunachal Pradesh. No bullets have been pushed across the Indo-Chinese border since then.
The last open conflict between the two most populous nations on the planet dates back to the Flash War 1962, where Indian troops were quickly defeated by the Chinese army.