China blog post denounces war as option to resolve Doklam crisis

The article argues that China must avoid war, but insist on Indian troop withdrawal from Doklam by other means.

July 20, 2017 11:29 am | Updated 11:58 am IST - BEIJING:

Indian traders vehicles enter China through Nathu La pass.

Indian traders vehicles enter China through Nathu La pass.

In sharp contrast to a spate of Chinese write-ups and web-postings exhorting Beijing to adopt a more muscular approach in Doklam, a widely circulating WeChat posting is denouncing war as an option to resolve the border crisis with India.

Posted in the WeChat blog, International military focus, on July 14, the detailed write-up is titled, “Important Inside story: How many people know the truth about Doklam conflict?” WeChat is a popular Chinese instant messaging website with an estimated 938 million users.

The article argues that China must avoid war, but insist on Indian troop withdrawal from Doklam by other means. The blog in Chinese addresses agitated netizens as its prime audience, on why war is not an option, despite finding fault with India for triggering the crisis in the Sikkim section of the China-India frontier.

The face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in the Doklam plateau began last month after Chinese troops tried to build a road through the area, which could threaten the Siliguri corridor — the narrow passage that links the north-east with the rest of India. The Chinese have insisted on Indian troop withdrawal from what it calls its “sovereign territory,” is a precondition for talks.

Without attributing it to either India’s boycott in May of China’s Belt and Road Forum or the Dalai Lama’s April visit to Arunachal Pradesh, the write-up highlights that the road construction in Doklam may have been started in response to India’s “petty actions”.

“We can look at the map and understand why India is so stirred because, the road built by China is an advance in terms of strategy, which can also be seen as a response to India’s petty actions previously.”

It adds: “This time the Chinese action is like a sharp knife intended to dismember north-east India. If China really started (a war), there is a possibility that it can sever ties between India and north-east India, and that is why India really crossed the border.”

Signalling Beijing’s end-game, the posting asserts that “China will settle everything,” once road construction has been completed.

The article points out that China is not prepared for a war in the area of the face-off, on account of several non-military and military factors.

It described India’s alleged cross border incursion in Doklam as “illegal entry” and not an “illegal invasion,” which has an altogether different implication under international law.

“To many people, illegal entry of people equals war because they cannot distinguish entry from invasion. They are two totally different notions. Illegal invasion is entering the border of another country by force and without permission of that country, but illegal entry is non-violent. It (the movement of Indian troops) can only be called border crossing. So far it looks like illegal border crossing, though the next level is unknown.”

The blog highlights India’s terrain advantage as well as superior fire power in the Yadong area of the Chumbi valley, which can become a battlefield in the standoff area.

“In Yadong we only have a border brigade and it is lightly equipped. But India has a military brigade that equals 13000 people. Not far there a mountain infantry division has been deployed. There are three sides including Sikkim and Bhutan that are controlled by India.” It adds that China has only three mountain brigades In Tibet, and not all can be deployed in the Yadong area, where maintenance of supply lines for frontline troops would be difficult. “Now we are not ready for war. We do not have enough military equipment and logistics backup in Yaodong. So we cannot start a war at will.”

The posting underscores that “many Chinese netizens” do not understand the situation and rush to embrace war. “They think it is easy to defeat Indians, to be contained. They do not understand the relations between countries, should only be backed by real power. The military power of China is in disadvantage in Yadong.” Instead of open-conflict, the article proposes that, as one of the options, China can enter a border section, where it has an advantage, and pitch the ball in India’s court. “For the first time India crossed the defined border and entered Chinese territory, for Doklam is clearly Chinese territory. So, in accordance with Chinese wisdom, we can find a border section where we have an advantage and enter their territory and see how they react.”

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