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Diverse reasons cited for China’s Dec 9 violent Tawang border incursion

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(TibetanReview.net, Dec14’22) – Both India and China have expressed outrage against each other over the Tawang border clash between their forces, which occurred in the early hours of Dec 9, blaming the other side for causing it. But both have played down the seriousness of the violence while explaining that normalcy has quickly been restored.

However, the Chinese were reported to have intruded in strength, armed with spiked clubs and rods. India accused China of aiming to change the status quo in the border situation by trying to capture a strategic 17,000-feet peak in Yangtse. Speculations abound as to why China chose to make a violent intrusion this time while the aftermath of the Jun 2020 violent border clash between the two sides at Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh continues to simmer.

For one thing, India’s push for tourism and infrastructure development near Yangtze along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh may have riled the Chinese, resulting in clashes at the sensitive point, news18.com Dec 13 cited Indian government functionaries as saying.

To the Hindustantimes.com Dec 14, however, it was clear that the Tawang sector incident had come just a week after the verbal altercation over the Indo-United States joint military exercises in Auli in Uttarakhand, 100 km from the LAC. The Auli exercises indicates that Beijing wants to teach India a lesson for getting too close to the US bilaterally and multilaterally as part of Quad, the report said. Not only did China oppose the joint battalion-level infantry exercises, but it also asked India to jointly uphold peace and tranquillity on LAC. Both India and US had dismissed China’s criticisms.

While Beijing is trying to forge new alliances in the far Pacific and West Asia to rival the US as an alternative pole, it will continue to put military pressure on the borders with India to remind New Delhi about the fragility of the military situation and force it to rethink its relations with the US and Quad, the report said.

The report also noted, however, that historically, Beijing had used military friction with adversaries to divert the attention of its population from domestic issues, citing Chinese citizens’ unprecedented resistance to the government’s much-criticized “irrational and unscientific zero-Covid policy” and its adverse effect on the country’s economy.

As the Chinese leader fails to silence anti-establishment protests and soothe citizen’s anger against his policies, instigating clashes on the border with India was a weak face-saving measure that has backfired, said the timesnownews.com Dec 13. It is no surprise that the border clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in Tawang come at a time when China’s domestic troubles have peaked, the report noted.

However, newsriveting.com Dec 13 said experts on the China-India affairs believe that the strong leadership in India was one of the reasons for the border clash. The rising nationalistic sentiment both in India and consequently in China has propelled the latter not to bow down before Beijing and give a befitting reply. The development has literally ended the monopolistic stand of China, the report felt.

The report also cited China’s opposition to the 18th annual edition of the Indo-US joint training exercise “YUDH ABHYAS 22” conducted in Uttarakhand last month, as a reason.

To the deccanherald.com Dec 9, the visit of the Sikyong of the Central Tibetan Administration, Mr Penpa Tsering, to Arunachal Pradesh (including Tawang) and other states in the north-eastern region last month may have contributed to the Chinese action. The report noted that Tsering had slammed the Communist Party of China for its “brutal and self-serving policies” and repressive rule in Tibet during his visit to the state.

The report also said Tsering’s tour to Tawang and other places in Arunachal Pradesh was believed to be a prelude to a visit by the 14th Dalai Lama to the frontier state of India, possibly in March or April next year.

To opindia.com Dec 14, the incursion at LAC could be result of conspiracy between China and Pakistan. India’s relations with China will always remain “somewhat tense” since Beijing considers India a challenger to its status. The report cited India’s former Chief of the Army Staff, General Shankar Roy Chowdhury, as saying that incursions at the LAC could be a result of “conspiracy” between China and Pakistan.

Whatever may be the case, the first major clash between Indian and Chinese armies since the fierce face-off in the Galwan Valley in Jun 2020 has drawn UN attention as well. When asked to comment on the incident, Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson to the UN Secretary-General has said: “Yeah, we’ve seen these reports. We call for de-escalation and to ensure that the tensions along in that area do not grow,” reported the PTI news agency Dec 14.

Meanwhile, the United States has criticized China’s latest violent border incursion, saying the move reflected the “growing trend by China to assert itself and to be provocative in areas directed towards US allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific”.

The US Department of Defence is closely watching the developments along the LAC, wionews.com Dec 14 cited Brigadier-General Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon Press Secretary, as saying. He has added that China was continuing to “amass forces and build military infrastructure” alongside the clash area.

“We will continue to remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the security of our partners. And we fully support India’s ongoing efforts to de-escalate this situation,” Ryder has said.

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