A commentary in a Chinese newspaper on Monday cautioned India against setting up new posts along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), even as New Delhi looks to strengthen infrastructure and management of disputed border areas to assuage concerns triggered by fresh reports of ‘incursions’ and face-offs.
Describing any move to set up new posts along the LAC as “a sensitive issue”, the commentary in the Global Times, a hard-line newspaper published by the official People’s Daily, accused India of “hyping" China’s “aggression” because it saw “an increasing gap with China in comprehensive strength and infrastructure construction along the border.”
“The establishment of new border posts is a sensitive issue. The China-India border war in 1962 was caused by the “forward policy” initiated by the Jawaharlal Nehru government,” wrote Liu Zongyi, a
strategic affairs scholar at the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies (SIIS).
“Now,” he added, “the LAC between China and India is located to the north of the McMahon Line and the new posts built by India may cross the line, triggering a tense situation in the border area and thus affecting the bilateral friendly cooperation in other fields. Indians with insight and vision should recognise the severity of the issue.”
The commentary was the first reaction in China to last week’s debate in India on the situation along the LAC. On Friday, Defence Minister A.K. Antony denied media reports claiming that a National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) report had found that China had blocked Indian patrols’ access to a large area of Indian territory in Ladakh.
While denying media reports on Friday, Mr. Antony did acknowledge that there were recent face-offs between the two armies along the border, such as the three-week-long stand-off in Depsang in April. They were possibly a reflection of Chinese concerns at India’s long-delayed moves to strengthen capabilities, he suggested.
Mr. Liu, in the commentary, responded that there were “undefined boundary areas” with the LAC yet to be demarcated. “Indians have an ‘ideal’ boundary in their minds and any other country crossing the line means [other troops] are invading India’s territory… India often hypes China’s “incursions” on the border, which in fact mirrors the fragility and sensitivity of India’s mentality when dealing with China,” he wrote.
Mr. Antony said while India was strengthening border infrastructure, the main objective was, however, to improve management of the border and to maintain peace and tranquility.
India and China have moved slowly towards agreeing a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement after months of talks and exchanging drafts. In May, the Depsang stand-off cast a shadow on the much anticipated visit by the new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India, which was his first overseas visit after he took over in March.
With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expected to visit China later this year – capping a rare back-to-back visits by the two Prime Ministers in a calendar year – both sides are hopeful that a robust agreement may
help draw a line over the recent boundary tensions.