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How International Media Reported on India-China Face-Off in Ladakh

While India and China have opposing claims, here’s the international media’s take on the clashes along the LAC.

Updated
World
4 min read
How International Media Reported on India-China Face-Off in Ladakh
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In a ‘violent face-off’ that took place on the night of Monday, 15 June, between India and China, at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed.

While New Delhi is saying the casualties in the Galwan Valley could have been avoided on both sides had China not changed the status quo unilaterally, Beijing is accusing India of crossing the border first and ‘attacking Chinese personnel’.

But what version of the clashes is international media reporting? Media channels across the world have been quite unclear about what exactly transpired at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two Asian neighbours. A lot of propaganda and strategic leaks have influenced international media’s reportage on the incident over the past few hours.

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Clear Asymmetry of Power: The Economist

The Economist mentioned how the ‘border has turned stormier,’ with Chinese incursions in Ladakh in 2013 and 2014 and 2017. It also highlighted how China was irked by India's decision to revoke the constitutional autonomy of Jammu & Kashmir and carve out Ladakh into a separate territory. India’s anxiety over China’s growing economic and political clout among its neighbours, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, China were mentioned prominently.

“The immediate cause of the current crisis seems to have been India’s build-up of infrastructure in eastern Ladakh, including a key north-south road, making it easier to move troops and redressing China’s advantage in logistics,” said the media report. It also talked of how the two countries have also been carried to this point by ‘wider geopolitical currents.’Quoting Nirupama Rao, a former head of India’s diplomatic service and ambassador to China, the article stated that there is a ‘clear asymmetry of power’ between China and India and things will be pretty heated for now.

A Bigger Game Plan: The Washington Post

Commenting on the timing of the clash, The Washington Post wrote about how China seems to be ‘flexing its muscles amid a global pandemic,’ in the background of its confrontation with Malaysian and Vietnamese vessels in the South China Sea, sending an aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait, the country’s unilateral move to seize new powers over Hong Kong.

For the Narendra Modi government that ‘prides itself on toughness in matters of national security,’ that has been viewing ‘China’s rise with disquiet,’ the country is now facing a serious crisis, said the media report.

Several publications commented on how there seems to be no obvious immediate trigger for the current conflict, but it is quite apparent that China has a ‘bigger game plan.’Nirupama Rao, a former Indian ambassador to China wrote on how this ‘new edge’ to China’s attitude to ‘throw [away] internationally accepted behaviour to advance their interests’ is worrisome for many countries.Gulf News also raised concerns over how this issue requires intervention from the highest level as beyond border disputes, the two have a ‘long history of excellent political and business relations.’

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India Does Not Want Further Escalation: The New York Times

The New York Times reported how the two countries do not want a further escalation, particularly India, ‘where military forces are nowhere near as powerful as China’s’ and also due to the present economic situation in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Neither PM Modi or President Xi want a war, but neither can relinquish their territorial claims either,” Ashley J Tellis, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington was quoted as saying by the publication.

Other media reports said it will be interesting to watch ‘Modi and his Hindu nationalist party’s’ next move, considering the leader has been ‘pursuing a forceful foreign policy that emphasises India’s growing role in the world,’ in the background of India-initiated strikes on Pakistan last year.

Keep a Sober Head — a Warning to India: CNN

On Saturday, military leaders met at the border to ‘peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas,’ according to a statement from India's foreign ministry.

Ahead of the meeting, Chinese state media aired footage of People's Liberation Army (PLA) manoeuvres in the region, with paratroopers and planes, describing it as a demonstration of ‘China's capability of quickly reinforcing border defences when necessary.’

CNN wrote about how ‘if China's propaganda and very public PLA deployments are designed to persuade India to back off,’ then India should be looking at ways to build its international ties.

The article talked about how India has signed bilateral military agreements with Australia and increased its defence cooperation with the US, also involving Japan.

Chinese analyst Long Xingchun was quoted as warning India to ‘keep a sober head to not be used as cannon ash by the US.’

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Situation is Harder to Defuse: The Guardian

The Guardian reported on how the deadly brawl was the ‘latest symptom of an increasingly aggressive Chinese policy on territory and borders.’

The article pointed out that over the last many years, China has been more assertive than India in building infrastructure around the LAC. What sets the current confrontation apart from previous incidents is the death toll and the fact that there have been several standoffs off late.The incident occurred at a time when officers from both sides were trying to negotiate but now with significant loss of life, at least on the Indian side, ‘the situation is much harder to defuse.’

“Now domestic politics and public opinion, especially nationalist pressure to avenge their deaths and escalate, becomes a dangerous force,” Vipin Narang, a security studies professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was quoted as saying by the report.

China and India Clash on Inhospitable Battlefield: BBC News

An article in BBC News talked of how the Galwan river valley, with its harsh climate and high altitude terrain has ‘traditionally been a peaceful area of the LAC.’

The report discussed how 17 Indian soldiers were critically injured in the line of duty and how some of them succumbed to their wounds due to the freezing temperatures overnight. It also highlighted China’s suspicion of India's construction in the area.

The area has now become a hotspot because this is where the LAC is closest to the new road India has built along the most vulnerable area in Ladakh, the report added.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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