NEW DELHI/BEIJING: The rhetoric from Beijing grew even shriller Wednesday on India’s standoff with China on the trijunction of the borders of Bhutan, Sikkim and China. And in the face of it, India continued to strike a Buddhist pose.
The Union Home Ministry’s spokesperson Ashok Prasad said India would not take a reactionary stance on China’s decision to turn away Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims from the Nathu La pass and pledged that clearances to Chinese investments in India would continue to be taken with a "great deal of maturity".
To a specific query whether New Delhi would stop granting security clearances to Chinese firms, the spokesperson’s response was in the nature of “appropriate decisions by appropriate people at appropriate levels.” Security concerns along the Sino-Indian borders are handled by the Ministry of Defence, diplomatic relations are the domain of the External Affairs Ministry and security clearances for foreign investments are granted by the Union Home Ministry. The inputs to these decisions are supplied by the intelligence agencies.
While pilgrims have been turned away at Nathu La, the other pilgrimage route to Kailash Mansarovar is still operational, officials said.
Beijing, on the other hand, has not stepped back from ratcheting up tensions even further. On Wednesday, it announced that it is weighing options on issuing a travel alert for its citizens visiting India.
"The Chinese government attaches great importance to the safety and lawful rights and interests of overseas Chinese citizens in accordance with the security condition of the relevant countries," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang in Beijing, using elliptical language typical of China in relation to other countries.
"We will decide whether or not to issue a travel alert," Geng said to a question about articles in the Chinese media cautioning Chinese investors in India.
On Tuesday, a leading official newspaper in Beijing warned Chinese companies operating in India to take steps to avoid being affected by the anti-China sentiment in India.
The article in Global Times called on Chinese firms to reduce their investments in India in view of the tension.
In other remarks, spokesman Geng went on to accuse India of "trampling" on the principles of Panchsheel, the hoary treaty of mutual coexistence dating back to Nehruvian days. He asked New Delhi to "correct its mistakes" as soon as possible by pulling back its troops Doka La.
Beijing also claimed that India is "misleading the public" by saying that Chinese troops are building a road close to Chicken's Neck in the Sikkim sector of the border which could endanger India's access to its northeast.
"I want to point out that the relevant actions by the Indian side violate the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in defiance of international law and international norms. As we all know, in the 1950s China, India and Myanmar proposed the Five Principles (Panchsheel) of co-existence," the foreign ministry spokesman said.
"However to the surprise of everyone, the Indian side trampled on the basic norms governing international relations by illegally crossing into another country's territory," he said.
WHAT’S GOING ON: 3 things to know
1. The standoff began last month with the People's Liberation Army destroying Indian Army bunkers in the Doka La where the borders of India, Bhutan and Tibet meet and proceeded to stopped pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar through the Nathu La pass.
2. India had objected to the construction of Chinese roads in this area, which falls in the territory of Bhutan, a country whose security is guaranteed by India.
3. China has stepped up its belligerence ever since India chose not to participate in Beijing’s signature Belt and Road Initiative. Beijing’s language has grown sharper since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US and his meeting President Donald Trump.