China-India border tension flares up in Galwan Valley, won’t lead to another ‘Doklam standoff’: experts

By GT staff reporters Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/18 17:02:27

India’s trespass to provoke China diverts pressure

Chinese soldiers guard a China-India border crossing at Nathu La Pass. Photo: CFP

Chinese border defense troops have bolstered border control measures and made necessary moves in response to India's recent, illegal construction of defense facilities across the border into Chinese territory in the Galwan Valley region, a source close to Chinese military told the Global Times on Monday.

In a fresh flare up in tensions along the China-India border, the Chinese troops' new move, believed to be the strongest military response to India's illegal trespassing incident along the border since the Doklam standoff, demonstrates the strong determination of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) to defend its sovereign territory, analysts said. 

But the latest border friction started by the Indian side won't lead to another "Doklam standoff" which brought serious tensions between China and India in 2017, as India is merely seeking to divert its domestic attention and pressure since the COVID-19 pandemic impacted its economy, and China has a military advantage in the Galwan Valley region. So, the Indian military won't escalate the incident, analysts said. 

Since early May, India has been crossing the boundary line in the Galwan Valley region and entering Chinese territory. The Indian side built defense fortifications and obstacles to disrupt Chinese border defense troops' normal patrol activities, purposefully instigated conflicts and attempted to unilaterally change the current border control situation, the military source said.

The Galwan Valley region is Chinese territory, and the local border control situation was very clear. The actions by the Indian side have seriously violated China and India's agreements on border issues, violated China's territorial sovereignty and harmed military relations between the two countries, according to the Chinese military source.

Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the Galwan Valley is not like Doklam because it is in the Aksai Chin region in southern Xinjiang of China, where the Chinese military has an advantage and mature infrastructure. So, if India escalates the friction, the Indian military force could pay a heavy price.

"The Indian government is being pressured by its society due to the unsuccessful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the number of confirmed cases is lower than the US since it has conducted fewer tests, the impact on its economy is serious," Hu said.


The latest data provided by the World Health Organization on Monday shows India has 90,927 confirmed cases and 2,872 deaths.

US multinational investment bank Goldman Sachs predicts that the Indian economy will experience a recession ever after its already weakened state was further dragged down by the countrywide lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the third time that Goldman Sachs has slashed its forecast for India's economic growth for 2020-21, CNBC reported on Monday.

Although the Modi administration's popularity remains high due to rising Hindu nationalism, this won't help the government overcome economic challenges, Hu noted. "So, the Indian government decided to hype the border issue with China again since it's easy to divert the domestic attention by hyping nationalism against China. In the future, it could even use it to bargain with China for medical or economic support," he said.

Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times that "India intends to make the border frictions with China a new normal, because it has geographical advantages to send troops to the border regions frequently. Although China won't provoke India, the Indian military won't stop their small operations from interrupting the Chinese military. This will be a prolonged issue between the two countries."

In view of the current situation, China's border defense troops have taken necessary measures to strengthen an on-the-spot response and control of border areas, resolutely safeguarding China's sovereignty and security and maintaining peace and stability in border areas, the military source said.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there have been some subtle and complex changes in China-India relations, which have created uncertainties for the improvement of bilateral relations, Qian Feng, director of the research department of the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University in Beijing, told the Global Times. 

"Some countries, led by the US, have launched an international campaign to discredit China. Some scholars in India believe that the international environment for India is far more favorable than that of China. Under such circumstances, they believe the intensified confrontation between China and the US will be of greater help and benefit to India and advocate reaching out to the US," Qian said. 

According to the source, the border troops of China and India will keep in touch with each other on the current situation through meetings and representations.

China and India experienced a 72-day military standoff in Doklam in 2017. Since then, measures have been taken to avoid another similar major incident.

The two countries' leaders had two informal meetings and agreed both sides will continue to maintain peace and tranquility in border areas and work on additional confidence-building measures through consultation.

Newspaper headline: Border tension flares up


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