China and India have both called for calm amid the recent border dispute in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed, following diplomatic talks between leaders on Thursday.
China’s Global Times described the recent clash as “regrettable” while a recent cartoon by the publication’s Tang Tang Fei depicted China and India in a boxing ring cheered on by the United States.
“With an undisguised glee, Uncle Sam is nudging India into further spats with China,” the caption read.
But China also reminded India of its commitment to defending its “territorial sovereignty”.
“Indian society needs to realise that China is committed to friendship with India and respects India as a strong neighbour and a regional power,” the editorial in the Communist Party mouthpiece read.
“China’s basic policy toward India is to keep China-India relations and the border areas stable. In the meantime, China resolutely defends its territorial sovereignty.”
“The Indian side should never think about pushing China to make concessions, because China won’t. Moreover, China’s countermeasures will never be late no matter the cost.”
It comes as Indian defence analyst Ajai Shukla tweeted a photo of rods studded with nails that were purportedly used by Chinese troops.
“Such barbarism must be condemned. This is thuggery, not soldiering,” he said.
Monday’s clash that killed 20 Indian troops was the deadliest between the sides in 45 years. China has not said whether it suffered any casualties. India also denied reports that any of its troops were in Chinese custody. Both sides accused each other of instigating the fight.
In the thin air at 14,000 feet above sea level, soldiers brawled with clubs, rocks and their fists but no shots were fired, Indian officials said. Neither side’s patrolling soldiers can use firearms under a previous agreement in the dispute.
India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said both sides agreed to handle the situation responsibly.
“Making exaggerated and untenable claims is contrary to this understanding,” he said in a statement on Thursday local time. .
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, citing Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a call with his Indian counterpart, said that “mutual respect and support serves our long-term interests.”
“After the incident, China and India communicated and co-ordinated through military and diplomatic channels,” he said at a daily briefing.
“The two sides agreed to deal fairly with the serious events caused by the conflict in the Galwan Valley, and … cool down the situation as soon as possible.”
But emotions were high in the south Indian city of Hyderabad, where thousands watched the funeral procession of Indian Col. Santosh Babu. He was among the 20 Indian forces who officials said died of injuries and exposure after the clash in the area’s subfreezing temperatures.
In McLeod Ganj, a city in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh with a large community of Tibetan refugees, demonstrators shouted anti-China slogans and burned the Chinese flag.
An Indian confederation of small and midsize companies called for a boycott of 500 Chinese goods, including toys and textiles, to express “strong criticism” of China’s alleged aggression in Ladakh.
The call for a boycott followed protests Wednesday in New Delhi where demonstrators destroyed items they said were made in China while chanting, “China get out.”
The Himalayan clash has fanned growing anti-Chinese sentiments due to the coronavirus. India counts more than 366,000 virus cases and 12,200 deaths. But a broader boycott could backfire for India if China chose to retaliate by banning exports of the raw materials used by India’s pharmaceutical industry.
India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said all Indian troops at Galwan were carrying arms on Monday. But under 1996 and 2005 agreements between the two countries, they are not supposed to use firearms during confrontations, he said on Twitter.
He was apparently responding to criticism by opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi who wanted to know “why were our soldiers sent unarmed to martyrdom?”
The clash escalated a standoff in the disputed region that began in early May, when Indian officials said Chinese soldiers crossed the boundary at three different points, erecting tents and guard posts and ignoring warnings to leave. That triggered shouting matches, stone-throwing and fistfights, much of it replayed on TV news channels and social media.
While experts said the two nations were unlikely to head to war, they also believe easing tensions quickly will be difficult.
China claims about 90,000 square kilometres of territory in India’s northeast, while India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometres of its territory in the Aksai Chin Plateau in the Himalayas, a contiguous part of the Ladakh region.
India unilaterally declared Ladakh a federal territory while separating it from disputed Kashmir in August 2019. China was among the handful of countries to condemn the move, raising it at international forums, including the U.N. Security Council.
India on Thursday was elected to a seat on the Council.
Thousands of soldiers on both sides have faced off over a month along a remote stretch of the 3,380-kilometer Line of Actual Control, the border established following a war between India and China in 1962 that resulted in an uneasy truce.