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Border test for amity of neighbors: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-06-04 20:59


Tensions have risen again along the border between China and India as thousands of Chinese and Indian troops have reportedly moved in to face each other since early May at three or four locations, after India began building a road through the disputed area, with dozens of soldiers on both sides having been hurt during scuffles and stone-throwing.

Given that the 2,000-kilometer border between China and India has never been properly demarcated, and the two sides' understanding of status quo on the line of actual control varies, frictions have flared up repeatedly over the past several decades.

Thus the two countries have signed an agreement on the "maintenance of peace and tranquility" along their border and have abided by a tacit agreement that weapons will not be used in clashes to prevent escalation — as a result no bullet has been fired between the two countries since the brief China-India war of 1962.

That explains why both sides have so far sought to play down the tensions, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian describing the overall situation as "stable and under control", and Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava saying "we are engaged with the Chinese side to peacefully resolve this issue". Both sides know an escalation of tensions will serve neither side any good.

Yet contrary to the sober-minded stance adopted by China and India, some excitable politicians in the United States seem eager to whip up hostilities between the two giant neighbors. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has jumped on the opportunity to point his ever-accusing finger at China for what he calls its "aggressive action" toward India. And the US president has offered to arbitrate what he describes as a "raging border dispute".

But contrary to that depiction, the overall situation in the China-India border areas is stable and controllable, and with well-established channels of communication between China and India, they are quite capable of resolving the relevant issues themselves through dialogue and consultation. There is no need for any third party to get involved.

The most pressing need of the moment, however, is for the two sides to keep nationalist sentiment in check. The US leader's offer to help may have emboldened some in India to take a tougher stand against China in order to "defend its pride" — as reflected in the popularity of a mobile app developed in the country that helps users detect and delete Chinese software from their smartphones. Allowing jingoism to have a free rein will only make reaching a settlement of the ongoing row more complicated.

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