China doesn't want conflicts, but won't run away from it either, warns state-run Global Times

Confident of border situation; will not trade our bottom line with anyone: Editorial

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China's President Xi Jinping talk during their meeting in Mamallapuram | Reuters [File] Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China's President Xi Jinping talk during their meeting at Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu last year | Reuters

A day after Indian and Chinese soldiers entered into a violent, physical clash in eastern Ladakh's Galwan Valley, state-run media Global Times warned that while China does not want to turn the border issues into a confrontation out of mere "goodwill and restraint", it would not shy away from a conflict if the situation demands it. In a veiled threat of sorts, the Chinese state media reminded that China's military prowess is far superior to India's. 

"The gap between China's and India's strength is clear. China does not want to turn border issues with India into a confrontation. This is goodwill and restraint from China. But China is confident in the situation at the border. It does not and will not create conflicts, but it fears no conflicts either. This policy is supported by both morality and strength. We will not trade our bottom line with anyone," Global Times, which serves as the mouthpiece of the Chinese government, stated in its editorial on Wednesday. The write up assumes significance as the Chinese government and the People's Liberation Army have not divulged many details regarding the border confrontation.   

It urged India to shed its twin misconceptions regarding the Chinese. "In recent years, New Delhi has adopted a tough stance on border issues, which is mainly resulted from two misjudgments. It believes that China does not want to sour ties with India because of increasing strategic pressure from the US, therefore China lacks the will to hit back provocations from the Indian side. In addition, some Indian people mistakenly believe their country's military is more powerful than China's. These misperceptions affect the rationality of Indian opinion and add pressure to India's China policy."

The editorial also did not spare Donald Trump's administration and criticised what it terms as the "Indian elite mentality" backed by the US. "The US has wooed India with its Indo-Pacific Strategy, which adds to the abovementioned misjudgment of some Indian elite. In 2017 when Indian troops crossed the line and entered the Doklam area to openly challenge China's territorial sovereignty, their craze was caused by such arrogance. Such an aggressive posture has won praise from the Indian public, which means that the Indian elite's mentality toward China is unhealthy and dangerous," the editorial says, in a covert reference to the war-mongering Indian social media users and a section of the media. 

Global Times also warned India against its confidence in the US. "New Delhi must be clear that the resources that the US would invest in China-India relations are limited. What the US would do is just extend a lever to India, which Washington can exploit to worsen India's ties with China, and make India dedicate itself to serving Washington's interests."

It reiterated that China does not want to clash with India and hoped to peacefully deal with bilateral border disputes. "This is China's goodwill, not weakness. How could China sacrifice its sovereignty in exchange for peace and bow to threats from New Delhi?"

Pinning the blame on India for the worst showdown between the two neighbours in about half a century, Global Times reiterated the Chinese government's stance that India was "building extensive infrastructure facilities along the border, and forcibly built part of the facilities in the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control regardless of bilateral divergences over the border disputes." The two sides went into repeated physical clashes as Chinese soldiers tried to stop their Indian counterparts, it claimed. 

While a clear picture on the total number of casualties and injured is yet to emerge, the Indian Army on Tuesday said 20 Army personnel, including a colonel, were killed in the violent clash. However, the Chinese government has been tight-lipped about the figures on their side. "It is noteworthy that the Chinese side did not disclose the number of casualties of the Chinese military, a move that aims to avoid comparing and preventing confrontational sentiments from escalating," Global Times wrote. 

The editorial also assured the Chinese public that the People's Liberation Army "will firmly safeguard China's territorial integrity and maintain national interests when dealing with border conflicts". 

Reportedly, apart from the nationalistic Global Times, other state media have downplayed the deadly clash. State broadcaster CCTV and the Communist Party-owned People's Daily republished the Chinese military's official statement on social media, without any additional reports.

CCTV's widely watched daily Xinwen Lianbo evening news broadcast made no mention of the border confrontation on Tuesday, AFP reported.