(N.B. This item was carried on the Huanqiu group’s website huanqiu.com obn Feb. 28th in a slightly more elaborate report, as below, with the parts on the website report not carried in the Huan Qiu Shi Bao newspaper today shown with strike-throughs and the parts in the news paper additionally (i.e. not included in the website item) shown in italics.)
CHINA AND INDIA WANT QUIET BUT US MEDIA DOESN’T STOP HYPING THE “CHINA-INDIA DEMILITARIZED ZONE” FAVOURS CHINA
(Screenshot of Bloomberg headline reproduced in the item on huanqiu.com)
China and India’s front-line troops recently completed disengagement in the Pangong Lake area, and the border situation has eased as a result but some sections of the U.S. media seem to be rather uneasy.
The U.S. Bloomberg published a report on the 27th entitled “China-India Demilitarized Zone Upsets Delhi Defense Officials”, claiming that India and China are “establishing a demilitarized zone” along the border, and that the move has angered some officials in the Indian security services, who believe “the establishment of the demilitarized zone is beneficial to Beijing.
News of the demilitarized zone is rare even in the hype-loving Indian media, so where did Bloomberg’s information come from?
The report said it came from two Indian officials “familiar with developments”, who revealed that Indian and Chinese soldiers would no longer patrol a 9-kilometer stretch of river bank along the northern bank of the Pangong lake. “This outcome will directly lead to India’s withdrawal from the strategic high ground it occupied in August last year in a covert operation”, they said.
Is this another admission on the part of the U.S. and India that it was India that initiated the so-called covert operation and stirred up trouble?
The two Indian officials, who have repeatedly complained, asked that their identities must not be made public, claiming that practices like the creation of the demilitarized zone “benefit Beijing,” Bloomberg said.
The article says that many officials questioned this, but the Indian government chose quick withdrawal regardless. The Indian military, defense ministry and Prime Minister’s office did not immediately respond to Bloomberg’s request for an interview.
According to the Huan Qiu Shi Bao, after India and China reached an agreement on simultaneous disengagement from the north and south banks of Pangong lake, Indian mainstream media and some strategic analysts speculated about the “demilitarized buffer zone between India and China at the fourth and eighth fingers”, arguing that the move was detrimental to India’s interests. But Indian officials have not paid any attention to it. In his regular press conference last week, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Srivastava did not directly respond to any questions related to the speculation about the agreement, but stressed that “they (agreements) has never been at the expense of India’s territorial interests” and that one should not misinterpret the military deployment of both sides.
Not only the U.S. media but also and the U.S. government has been active since last year’s conflict along the India-China border. In February, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price declared at a press conference that the U.S. was closely following the border dispute between India and China and supported a peaceful resolution through direct dialogue, while stressing that the U.S. would stand with allies and partners like India. In response to resolution of the Sino-Indian border dispute, the Chinese Embassy in India previously issued a statement saying that China has always maintained that the development of bilateral relations between countries should be conducive to regional peace, stability and development, and must not undermine the legitimate rights and interests of third parties. The Sino-Indian border issue is a matter between China and India. Both sides have been maintaining communication on disengagement and cooling of the situation in the border area through diplomatic and military channels. China and India have the wisdom and capacity to deal with their differences properly and do not need the intervention of a third party. On February 20, China and India held the 10th round of military commanders-level talks on the Chinese side of the Moldo/Chushul meeting point. Both sides positively evaluated the disengagement of frontline forces in the Pangong Lake area in the initial stage, considering it an important development that provides a basis for resolving other issues in the area of the Line of Actual Control along the Western section of the Sino-Indian border. Regarding progress of disengagement between the two armies in other areas, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Feb. 26 that recently, the front-line troops of China and India completed disengagement in the Pangong Lake area, and the situation on the ground now has eased significantly. Both sides should cherish the current hard-won situation, work together to consolidate the achievements made, maintain the momentum of consultations, further de-escalate the situation, improve the border management and control mechanisms, advance the border negotiation process and continuously create and enhance mutual trust to achieve peace and tranquility in the border area.
According to Indian news agency, Press Trust of India, Indian Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi, turned his “guns” on Modi on Feb. 27, while talking about the Sino-Indian border issue at a campaign event, accusing the latter of being “afraid” of China and claiming that Modi’s first reaction to China’s “invasion” was that “no one is coming into India. “This showed the Chinese that the Indian Prime Minister was afraid of them. Since then, the Chinese have been negotiating on that basis”. This is not the first time that Gandhi has brought in China while criticising Modi.
China’s Foreign Ministry has repeatedly reiterated before that the rights and wrongs of the relevant developments in the Sino-Indian border region are very clear and the responsibility lies entirely with the Indian side.