The fierce clashes that erupted between the Indian and Chinese soldiers in North Sikkim reportedly involving about 150 troops from both sides could hamper ties between New Delhi and Beijing, warn experts.
Due to the contested boundary between India and China, such issues keep arising. Army sources told media that “It should be noted that temporary and short duration face-offs along the Sikkim border occur as the boundary issue is not resolved. Troops resolve these issues mutually as per established protocols. This has occurred after a long time.”
The Sikkim face-off between Indian and Chinese troops was also resolved with local-level interaction and dialogue between senior officials of both the nations.
This has prompted sharp responses from experts who warn about China’s actions during the pandemic can hurt the bilateral ties between the two nuclear-armed nations.
Ranjit Kumar, a senior journalist says “Both sides engaged in minor stone-pelting at each other injuring a few on both sides. Last such confrontation happened in the Sikkim area in 1967 and the two forces haven’t exchanged any single bullet since then. This shows that the two sides are managing their border disputes peacefully.”
Kumar refers to the Doklam military standoff and says – “This indicates the urgent need to demarcate the border areas to prevent any miscalculation. The two nuclear powers must not allow the border disputes to result in open war.
The two leading economies and most populated countries of the world must show the maturity to come to an early conclusion of the unresolved border issues to enter into a new era of cooperation and mutual trust.
In the year of 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and China, the leadership of both countries must make a serious move to close the unending bickerings over three decades-long border talks and open a new era in bilateral relations.”
Since the US government has been accusing China of having hidden the severity of the coronavirus and Indian government had already imposed the stringent FDI measures on opportunistic Chinese takeovers, Beijing intends to showcase its prowess in some manner, writes Kumar.
Another expert says – “The anti-China sentiment in the world is at an all-time high since Beijing was not transparent about the extent and nature of Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. India is no exception and people want the government to stay cautious with China.
The Indian government is already devising ways and means to lessen its economic dependence on China for good. The government has also amended its FDI policy with an eye on China.”
The expert continues saying that with such attacks and face-offs, China is showing its military muscle not only to India but also to the US and other countries who contest its claims in the South China Sea. As far as India is concerned, China generally indulges in a border face-off with India whenever Delhi’s relations with the US and other Quad partners start growing close.”
While other experts like a PhD. Scholar in International Relations from JNU tells EurAsian Times that “based on the calculus of our strong engagement with China, we both need each other. Apart from that, our border dispute with China interplays at a different level than with Pakistan, where we have more hardcore realist approach.”
The scholar concludes that “and lastly, the border isn’t marked so it’s flexing of muscles from both the side from time to time. There are a local disengagement mechanism and established protocols to deal with these issues.”