China and India point fingers after bloody border brawl

Foreign Affairs

China and India's border troubles force politicians in both countries to make hard choices.

After the bloody turn in China-India border tensions two nights ago, officials in both countries have continued to reemphasize their claims to sovereignty and point fingers. The New York Times summarizes (porous paywall):

“The sovereignty and integrity of India is supreme, and nobody can stop us in defending that,” Mr. Modi said on Wednesday in a short televised speech, breaking his public silence over the incident. He vowed that “the sacrifice of our soldiers will not be in vain.”

“India wants peace,” he went on, “but if provoked India is capable of giving a befitting reply.”…

China pledged on Wednesday to avoid a broader conflict, but its foreign minister, Wáng Yì 王毅, scolded his Indian counterpart in a telephone conversation. He accused India of provoking the clash on Monday night…

“The Indian side must not misjudge the current situation and must not underestimate China’s firm will to safeguard territorial sovereignty,” Mr. Wang told India’s Minister of External Affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, according to a statement released in Beijing.

Hours later, India’s ministry posted its own version of the conversation, saying that Mr. Jaishankar blamed China for “a premeditated and planned action that was directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties.”

China continued to decline to confirm casualty statistics: “A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, Zhào Lìjiān 赵立坚, four times on Wednesday sidestepped questions about media reports in India that China had suffered 43 casualties on Monday, including some deaths, saying he had no information to offer.”

“Grim details of the clash that left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead near the Chinese border have begun to trickle out, revealing that soldiers used improvised weapons, including batons wrapped in barbed wire, during the high-altitude brawl,” the Financial Times reports (paywall). The Guardian also has a report summarizing various accounts of what happened.

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