New Delhi: The countdown to a military conflict between India and China has begun, a Chinese daily claimed today, while a senior government official in Beijing baited India by suggesting Delhi's actions could be matched by Chinese soldiers entering Uttarakhand or Kashmir.
- On Sikkim stand-off, new strong statement from Chinese official
- What if we were to enter Kalapani or Kashmir, asks Beijing official
- We "have the determination," says official on possible military clash
In Parliament, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley underscored that the armed forces are strong enough to meet any challenge to the country's security and underlined that lessons have been learnt from the 1962 war with China. "I agree that some challenges are still there. Some people are targeting our country's sovereignty and integrity. But I am fully confident that our brave soldiers have capability to keep our country secure, may it be challenges on the eastern border or the western border," he said.
His comments came on a day when a senior official in China made aggressive remarks about the possibility of the escalation of the dispute at Sikkim which began in the middle of June.
Beijing refers to the area that is simmering with tension as Donglang and claims it is Chinese territory. Bhutan and India say the region is part of the tiny Himalayan kingdom and that Indian soldiers moved to prevent the Chinese army from constructing a road there because it violates the status quo on the highly sensitive area which is located at the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan.
India has proposed that both countries call back their soldiers, but Beijing has refused, stating that India has "illegally transgressed" the border at Sikkim and is therefore he only party obliged to withdraw its troops.
"Even if there is only one Indian soldier, even for a day it is still a violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity," claimed Wang Wenli, a top official with China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ms Wang was briefing an Indian media delegation. "It is impossible to have a dialogue with India at this time. Our people will think our government is incompetent," she said.
"We think it is not doable for the Indian side to use tri-junction as an excuse," she alleged."The Indian side has many tri-junctions. What if we use the same excuse and enter the Kalapani region between China, India and Nepal, or even into the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan?" she dared.
Asked whether China was getting ready for a war with India, Ms Wang said, "I can only say that for the PLA (People's Liberation Army) and for the Chinese government, we have the determination. So, if the Indian side decides to go down the wrong path or still have illusions about this incident, then we have the right to use any act that is in line with the international law to protect our rights."
Both India and China have said that diplomatic channels are being used to resolve the conflict.
An editorial in the state-run China Daily today warned India that the "clock is ticking away" and "India will only have itself to blame" if it does not withdraw its soldiers from the Doklam plateau which has hosted a military confrontation between the two countries since the middle of June. "As the standoff ... enters its seventh week, the window for a peaceful solution is closing," said the China daily.