Posts Tagged ‘Himalaya’

South China Sea: Vietnam Confirms Buying Anti-Ship Missiles from India — Will be seen by China as a defiant move by Vietnam

August 19, 2017

Missile signals Vietnam’s defending its claim to disputed South China Sea
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For the first time ever, the government of Vietnam today confirmed – albeit carefully – that it has acquired BrahMos anti-ship cruise missiles from India. At a time when Delhi and China are locked in their worst military confrontation in decades, sources in the Defence Ministry denied selling the missile systems to Vietnam, though they did not want to comment on record.

The acquisition of the BrahMos will be seen by China as a defiant move by Vietnam to protect its claim to the disputed South China Sea, which Beijing claims entirely as its own.

Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang, when asked a specific question on the acquisition of the BrahMos said earlier today, “The procurement of defence equipment by Vietnam is consistent with the policy of peace and self-defence and is the normal practice in national defence.” She added that the Vietnam-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership which includes co-operation in defence has “been making a practical contribution to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region.”

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India’s BrahMos missiles are considered one of the most advanced missiles of its type.

The Vietnamese government statement was widely interpreted by local media as confirmation that the BrahMos missile deal, discussed for years, has climaxed. Senior Vietnamese journalists indicated to NDTV that the first batch of missiles may have arrived a few days ago.

Co-developed by a Russian manufacturer and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation, the BrahMos can accelerate to speeds of 2.8 times the speed of sound to strike enemy ships 300 km away. In the final phase of its flight, the missile undertakes a series of extreme manoeuvers to avoid interception by surface-to-air missiles which may be fired to prevent it from hitting its target. The Indian Army has also acquired a land-attack variant of the missile featuring a dive attack capability to enable the BrahMos to strike targets in mountainous areas with pinpoint accuracy.

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BrahMos missiles can undertake a series of extreme manoeuvres to avoid interception.

In April this year, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Daily said, “The deployment of BrahMos missile is bound to increase the competition and antagonism in the China-India relations and will have a negative impact on the stability of the region.” The armies of both countries are in the midst of a lengthy standoff on the Doklam plateau, located over the Sikkim border. China says the region belongs to it; India and Bhutan agree it’s part of the tiny Himalayan kingdom. In June, Indian soldiers crossed over to stop the Chinese army from building a road that would give it strategic access to the “Chicken’s Neck” – the narrow sliver of land that connects the Northeast states with the rest of India.

Vietnam has deep concerns at Beijing’s rapid conversion of shoals and tiny islands into full-fledged military bases with runways for use by military aircraft. Several countries in the region in addition to the US, Japan and India have repeatedly said China should not in any way threaten or impede the free movement of shipping in what are international waterways. In 1979, both countries fought a brief but bloody war in which there were thousands of casualties with China being unable to prevent Vietnam’s involvement in neighbouring Cambodia.

India and Vietnam enjoy a very close military partnership. India has trained Vietnamese sailors in Visakhapatnam to operate Russian built ‘Kilo’-Class submarines which are operated by the Navies of both countries and has supplied patrol vessels. India has also been training Vietnamese soldiers at the School of Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare in Vairengte in Mizoram.

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3 Rebels, 2 Indian Soldiers Killed in Kashmir Fighting

August 13, 2017

SRINAGAR, India — Three Kashmiri rebels and two Indian soldiers have been killed in a fierce gunbattle in the disputed Himalayan region, police said Sunday.

The fighting erupted Saturday after Indian troops raided southern Awneera village on a tip that at least seven rebels fighting New Delhi’s rule over Kashmir were hiding there, said top police officer S.P. Vaid.

He said militants lobbed hand grenades and fired automatic rifles from two civilian homes and an apple orchard, killing two soldiers. At least three other soldiers were wounded.

Police said the firing stopped late in the night but resumed early Sunday, when three rebels were killed. Vaid said they were affiliated with the Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest Kashmiri insurgent group.

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Hizbul Mujahideen

Residents said a civilian home was destroyed after troops blasted it with explosives.

Anti-India protests followed the fighting Saturday and Sunday, leading to clashes between rock-throwing residents and government forces who fired shotgun pellets and tear gas.

At least seven protesters were reported injured in the clashes.

Separately, two police officials and a soldier were injured after rebels sprayed gunfire at government forces laying a cordon in northeastern Hajin area early Sunday.

Also Sunday, a civilian who was wounded in a petrol bomb attack in the region’s main city of Srinagar died in a hospital. Police said unknown perpetrators hurled the bomb at a police party on Saturday but missed the target, hitting the passer-by.

In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with anti-India rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations against the militants. The anti-India protests and clashes have persisted despite the Indian army chief warning recently that “tough action” would be taken against stone throwers during counterinsurgency operations.

Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety. Rebel groups demand that Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population and most people support the rebels’ cause against Indian rule. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.

5 Terrorists Killed In Kashmir — Jammu And Machil Sector, Major Infiltration Bid Foiled

August 7, 2017

All India | Written by Sheikh Zaffar Iqbal | Updated: August 07, 2017 21:56 IST

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Kashmir Line of Control
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SRINAGAR:  A major infiltration bid was prevented in Jammu and Kashmir’s Machil Sector on Monday evening when five infiltrators who were trying to cross the Line of Control were killed by security forces.

“A major infiltration bid was foiled today in the Machil sector by alert troops,” a defence spokesman said in Srinagar.

“Five weapons have been recovered from the terrorists. The operation is still going on in the area,” Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said.

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Around 40 terrorists trying to cross the Line of Control have been killed by security forces this year.

Meanwhile, Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire in Uri sector and fired towards Indian posts, the Army said.

 http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/5-terrorists-killed-in-jammu-and-kashmirs-machil-sector-major-infiltration-bid-foiled-1734654
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Doklam row: India reasonably sure China does not want war despite angry rhetoric — “For India, it’s an existential imperative.”

August 7, 2017

By Rajat Pandit

 Updated: Aug 7, 2017, 10:24 AM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • A workable option is for both India and China to simultaneously withdraw their troops, according to sources.
  • Sources add if it does come down to a skirmish, the Army is well-poised with “fully acclimatised troops”.
  • At Doklam, around 300-350 troops from both sides continue to be ranged against each other as of now.

File photo used for representation

File photo used for representation
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NEW DELHI: Far away from the actual faceoff site at Doklam, where rival soldiers are close enough to literally smell each other in the rarefied air of the high-altitude region, the Indian security establishment is reasonably sure China will not risk a war or even “a small-scale military operation” despite all its belligerent rhetoric.

A “face-saving” workable option is for both India and China to simultaneously withdraw their troops from the Bhutanese territory of Doklam (called Dong Lang by China) near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction, said sources in the security establishment.

But, added the sources, if it does come down to a skirmish or battle, the Indian Army is well-poised with “fully acclimatised troops” and “an enhanced border management posture” to prevent “any misadventure” by the People’s Liberation Army+ (PLA).

India has repeatedly stressed war is not a solution to the on-going over 50-day standoff, with foreign minister Sushma Swaraj last week telling Parliament+ that bilateral dialogue, patience and “bhasha saiyam” (language restraint) was the way forward to diffuse tensions.

“Both countries do not want a conflict. A tactical operation by the Chinese border guards and PLA to construct a motorable road at Doklam (physically blocked by Indian soldiers on June 18) went awry, with the consequent strategic fall-out. Mutual troop pull-back or re-adjustment is the face-saver,” said a source.

But China is yet to sound conciliatory, at least in its public stance. The 7th edition of the annual “Hand-in-Hand” exercise between the Indian Army and PLA, which was to be held in China in October, is likely to be among the “casualties” of the faceoff. “Even the exercise’s initial planning conference, leave alone the final one, has not been held despite reminders to China,” said another source.

At the over 11,000-feet site in Doklam, the roughly 300-350 troops from the two sides continue to be ranged against each other as of now. Concertina wire coils around 150 metres long separate them there, with both having also built makeshift defences after earlier pitching tents and establishing logistical supply lines.

“The Chinese troops at the faceoff site are backed by around 1,500 PLA soldiers in three layers towards the rear. There are some verbal and loudspeaker exchanges but in a non-aggressive manner,” said the source.

Accidental escalation, however, remains a big worry. Indian Army formations in the region, including the 17 (Gangtok), 20 (Binnaguri) and 27 (Kalimpong) Mountain Divisions (each with over 10,000 soldiers), continue to be in a high state of operational readiness.

As was first reported by TOI,+ over 2,500 soldiers from the 164 Brigade were moved forward to Zuluk and Nathang Valley in Sikkim in June-July to add to the 6,000 soldiers under the 63 (Nathu La) and 112 (Chungthang) Brigades already deployed in eastern and north-eastern parts of the state.

“Our soldiers are, in any case, deployed at border outposts. The PLA, which does not man posts like our troops because China has better roads for quick deployment, moved forward its soldiers only after the face-off began in mid-June,” said the source.

As a military thumb rule, an attacker has to deploy three soldiers for every one of the defender in the plains. As the altitude increases, the ratio increases to 9:1 for mountain warfare. “Our troops are better placed and prepared for the long haul,” he added.

Sources say India remains steadfast about not allowing China to “bully” Bhutan into ceding ground in the Doklam region, which is “strategically crucial” because the Zomplri (Jampheri) Ridge there overlooks the Siliguri corridor or the “Chicken’s Neck” area. But it has maintained restraint in face of escalating rhetoric from Beijing.

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 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/doklam-row-india-reasonably-sure-china-does-not-want-war-despite-angry-rhetoric/articleshow/59945037.cms
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Showdown over small piece of land reflects bitter rivalry between Asian powers

By Amy Kazmin in New Delhi
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On a windswept Himalayan plateau usually frequented by seasonal yak herders, hundreds of troops from China’s People’s Liberation Army and the Indian Army are locked in a stand-off over a small but strategic piece of land.
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Bullets are not flying, but rhetoric is, with Beijing warning New Delhi to “correct its mistake” by withdrawing its troops from the contested terrain, that China calls its own.  India — which says it is has merely come to the defence of its tiny neighbour Bhutan that also claims the land — has ruled out a unilateral withdrawal, while insisting it wants a peaceful resolution of the problem.
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In the past few days, China has ratcheted up its official demands for a swift Indian climbdown, raising fears of imminent escalation. A senior Chinese diplomat in New Delhi has warned of “serious consequences” if Indian troops fail to withdraw.
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The Chinese defence ministry told India that “restraint has a bottom line”. Analysts say the showdown on the Doklam Plateau — known as Donglong in Chinese — reflects the increasingly bitter rivalry between the two Asian neighbours, whose relations have deteriorated despite efforts to reset ties and foster stronger economic relations.
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Beijing is particularly irritated with New Delhi’s strengthening of strategic ties with both the US and Japan, and the privileged status that it grants the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. “Doklam is not about a road,” wrote Praveen Swami, the strategic affairs editor of the Indian Express newspaper.
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“It is a message about China’s ire at India building alliances with its adversaries in Asia, and with the US. Beijing seeks, through the threat of force, to instruct India on how countries ought to conduct themselves.” .
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For its part, New Delhi is wary of what it sees as China’s efforts to encircle India by increasing its influence over India’s neighbours, including its rival Pakistan. New Delhi is also anxious about China’s efforts to court Bhutan, whose international relations are in effect controlled by India, to the growing resentment of some Bhutanese.
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Zhang Ye, a fellow of the PLA’s Naval Research Institute, wrote that the stand-off was a “geopolitical competition in the disguise of a border dispute”, and would enable India to increase its military presence in the tiny Buddhist kingdom.
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“India is making use of Bhutan to increase its geo-advantage over China,” he wrote.
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The stand-off erupted in mid-June, when the PLA began extending a road towards a strategically important ridge on India’s border through terrain claimed by both China and Bhutan, the tiny Himalayan kingdom that New Delhi treats as a near protectorate.
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India says its soldiers were sent at Bhutan’s request to persuade the Chinese troops to “desist” from building the road — construction that the Bhutani capital of Thimpu says violates its agreements with Beijing about how to resolve the boundary dispute.
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But New Delhi also sees China’s effort to build a road towards Jampheri Ridge, which overlooks India’s Siliguri corridor, as a threat to itself. If completed, the road would allow the PLA to bring tanks within firing range of India’s most vulnerable point: the corridor is often referred to as the “Chicken’s Neck”, a narrow strip of land that connects its volatile north-east region to the country’s heartland.
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Indian security analysts say this was a “red line” that New Delhi — often tepid in its response to Chinese construction in other contested areas — could not allow to go unchallenged.
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“There is no way the Indian army can back out of this,” said retired army general Vinod Saighal, who previously served in the area. “For India, it’s an existential imperative.”
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Last week, Beijing claimed that New Delhi had reduced its troops on the disputed territory to just 48, but that it was simultaneously bolstering their position by “repairing roads in the rear, stocking up supplies, [and] massing up a large number of personnel” along India’s side of the border.
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“The Indian side is always keeping the word ‘peace’ on the tip of its tongue but we should not only listen to its words but also heed its deeds,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement. Indian officials deny “thinning out” their military strength at the site of the stand-off and say several hundred troops remain arrayed against Chinese rivals some 100 metres away. “War cannot be a solution,” Sushma Swaraj, India’s foreign minister, told parliament on Thursday.
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“Even after war, we need to talk to find a solution. Wisdom is to resolve issues diplomatically.” India and China now look set for a protracted stalemate, which many believe could last until the onset of the area’s harsh winter or even beyond. “This looks like it’s going to be a long crisis,” said Shashank Joshi, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.
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“It’s a battle of wills and there is no easy answer. It’s a much more severe disagreement than any of the others we’ve seen.”
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Additional reporting by Emily Feng and Lucy Hornby in Beijing
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3 Kashmir Rebels Killed in Fighting With Indian Troops

August 5, 2017

SRINAGAR, India — A gunbattle between Indian troops and Kashmiri rebels on Saturday killed three insurgents in the disputed Himalayan region and triggered a new round of anti-India protests and clashes.

The fighting began after government forces raided a cluster of homes on a tip that rebels were hiding in northwestern Sopore area, said police Inspector-General Muneer Ahmed Khan. He said that as the soldiers began searching homes, they came under gunfire from militants.

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Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) Inspector-General of Police Muneer Ahmed Khan appealed public to give Kashmir Police time to end the violence

In the ensuing battle, three rebels were killed and a police official injured, he said.

As the news of the killings spread, protests and clashes erupted in several parts of the region as residents chanted slogans against Indian rule and in favor of rebels who have fought against New Delhi’s rule since 1989.

Soldiers fired at rock-throwing protesters in Bandipora area and wounded at least three civilians.

In an escalating confrontation in the last seven days, at least 10 rebels and four civilians have died in five gunbattles and subsequent anti-India clashes. Two Indian army soldiers also have been killed in a rebel ambush.

In a first, non-local Hindu militant arrested in Kashmir: Police

Photo: Mubashir Khan/GK — Muneer Ahmed Khan Inspector General of police Kashmir shows Sandeep Kumar a Hindu nonlocal militant during a news conference

Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety. Rebel groups demand that Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population and most people support the rebels’ cause against Indian rule.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with anti-India rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations against the militants. The anti-India protests and clashes have persisted despite the Indian army chief warning recently that “tough action” would be taken against stone throwers during counterinsurgency operations.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.

Rebel groups have largely been suppressed by Indian forces in recent years and public opposition to Indian rule is now principally expressed through street protests.

See also:

http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/front-page/in-a-first-non-local-hindu-militant-arrested-in-kashmir-police/254416.html

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Two rebels, two Indian soldiers killed in Kashmir — Lashkar-e-Taiba involved on India’s border

August 3, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Indian paramilitary troopers stand guard after Kashmiri separatists called for a one-day strike to protest a civilian killing in Srinagar on August 2, 2017

SRINAGAR (INDIA) (AFP) – Two Indian soldiers and two rebels were killed in armed clashes on Thursday, officials said, in another day of bloodshed in Kashmir where tensions are high following the death of a prominent militant.The rebels were killed in Kulgam, south of the main city of Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir, when they walked into an ambush laid by Indian soldiers.

“It was a deliberate and swift operation,” an army officer told AFP.

In a separate incident, two Indian troops were killed and another injured in a shootout with militants in Shopian district, the officer said on condition of anonymity.

The soldiers came under fire as they surrounded a house suspected of harbouring militants, and were evacuated from the scene. It was not clear if the rebels inside evaded capture.

“Three soldiers were evacuated by air but two of them died before reaching a military hospital,” a police officer said.

The violence comes just days after Indian forces killed top militant commander Abu Dujana, who headed the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group in Kashmir.

His death sparked protests and violent clashes across Kashmir, in which two civilians, including a teenage student, were killed.

Schools and colleges remained shut Thursday amid fears of further protests against Indian rule.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim the restive region in full.

For decades rebel groups, including LeT, have fought 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence or a merger of the former Himalayan kingdom with Pakistan.

The fighting and India’s counterinsurgency campaign since 1989 has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians, dead.

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China and India locked in high-stakes, high-altitude border row — Chinese sabre-rattling?

July 27, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Yanan Wang, with Annie Banerji in New Delhi | Chinese and Indian soldiers stand guard at the Nathu La border crossing in India’s northeastern Sikkim state, near the disputed Doklam territory

BEIJING (AFP) – A border standoff between Chinese and Indian troops on a remote Himalayan plateau has heightened long-standing tensions while ensnaring a tiny kingdom, Bhutan, between the two nuclear-armed powers.The row has festered for more than a month as India and China refuse to back down in the distant but strategically key territory, reflecting the historic mistrust between the Asian giants.

The area is disputed between China and Bhutan but India’s decision to jump into the fray reflects its concerns about Beijing’s growing military might and ambitions in the region, analysts say.

The border trouble began in mid-June when Chinese soldiers started to extend a road through the Doklam territory — known as “Donglang” in Chinese.

India, a close ally of Bhutan, then deployed troops to stop the construction project, prompting Beijing to accuse India of trespassing on Chinese soil.

China, which warned this week that it would step up its deployment, insists that India must withdraw its troops before any proper negotiation takes place. India says said both sides should withdraw their forces.

“The solution to this issue is simple, which is that the Indian troops back out honestly,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said this week.

While the deadlock may be broached during Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s visit to Beijing on Thursday, there are no signs that either side is ready to back down.

“It’s easier to shake a mountain than to shake the People’s Liberation Army (PLA),” Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian boasted at a press conference Monday.

Sarath Chand, India’s vice army chief, said on Tuesday: “China is expanding its influence across the Himalayas into our neighbourhood despite being an economy five times the size (of India), with such a large standing army… it is bound to be a threat for us in the years ahead.”

– Game of chicken at ‘Chicken’s Neck’ –

Mistrust is hundreds of years old and the pair fought a brief war in 1962 in India’s border state of Arunachal Pradesh.

“India views China’s road-building as a threat because (the Chinese) have gone against the status quo of behaviour in a disputed territory,” Shen Dingli, vice dean of Fudan University’s Institute of International Studies, told AFP.

The road was being built close to the “Chicken’s Neck,” a narrow, essential strip of land connecting India’s northeastern provinces with the rest of the country.

But Beijing maintains that “Doklam has been part of China since ancient times,” countering that Indian troops triggered the standoff by crossing a boundary established in an 1890 agreement with Britain.

Zhao Xiaozhuo, a senior Chinese colonel and an analyst at a PLA think tank, said it was “ridiculous” for India to view the road construction as a threat.

“India views infrastructure in the border areas as only for military use with little consideration for their valuable role in economic development,” Zhao wrote in the state-run China Daily.

Bhutan has taken a backseat as India and China scuffle.

Jayadeva Ranade, head of the Delhi-based Centre for China Analysis and Strategy, said China is trying to establish a “pro-Beijing lobby” inside Bhutan.

“But Bhutan has limitations on what it can do directly. It has protested to China, issued notes, but more than that, what can they really do but sit and watch?”

– Domestic audiences –

Neither Chinese President Xi Jinping nor Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi can back down without facing a “nationalist backlash” back home, said Huang Jing, a Sino-Indian relations expert at the National University of Singapore.

Xi in particular must exude strength as he consolidates power before a crucial Communist Party congress later this year.

“This situation is very dangerous. I don’t think China has much choice if the Indian troops stay where they are — Xi will have to demonstrate to Chinese people whether he means what he says,” Huang told AFP.

India fears that China’s “String of Pearls” military and commercial network in the Indian Ocean increasingly undermines its own geopolitical status.

And it has voiced concern about another Chinese project: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will give Beijing access to the Arabian Sea but passes through the hotly disputed Kashmir region.

The project is part of a massive Chinese global trade infrastructure programmed dubbed One Belt, One Road, which India has snubbed.

The standoff is a very public sign of India’s willingness to push back.

“As this face-off continues, the one who’s actually losing ground are the Chinese because they have styled themselves so far as a major power whom no one can challenge,” Ranade said.

“So the fact that India has stood up to them is a message to all other countries in the region.”

by Yanan Wang, with Annie Banerji in New Delhi
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