Ramping up the rhetoric against India, Chinese media took to recalling the 1962 India-China war this week, publishing editorials and photographs from five decades ago. While People’s Daily, the most influential daily in China, has referred to an editorial printed in the newspaper barely a month before the 1962 Indo-China war, a website published “rare” photographs from the conflict.
Earlier too, Chinese media and government spokespersons have recalled the 1962 war between India and China, as a warning, since the stand-off between the two countries in Doklam, in the Sikkim region, sparked tensions in mid-June.
People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, took to Weibo, the microblogging app, to recall an editorial printed on the newspaper’s front page on September 22, 1962. Titled, “If this can be tolerated, what cannot be tolerated?”, the editorial refers to India’s alleged attempts to “erode” Chinese territory, recounts Indian Army provocation and warns of retaliation.
In the image of the front page of the People’s Daily published on Tuesday are two more articles concerning tension between India and China. The 1962 editorial was also recalled in an article on the newspaper’s website, titled, “People’s Daily to India: Borderline is bottom line.” The same day, Sina.com.cn published a series of “rare” photographs from the same conflict. The series of 25 photographs recounts the build-up to tensions, the outbreak of war, key Chinese victories and the ceasefire.
The references to the 1962 war are a step up from similar articles in China’s state-run media. Since Monday, all of China’s top state-run media platforms, through opinions, editorials and expert interviews, warned India of “consequences”, slowing down of growth, the dangers of politicising the Dalai Lama and criticism from the international community.
In a commentary published Monday, titled ‘India must understand borderline is bottom line’, state-run news agency Xinhua, stated that India had “blatantly” trespassed on sovereign Chinese territory. “India should rectify its mistakes and show sincerity to avoid an even more serious situation creating more significant consequences. After all, the country should be fully aware of the legal consensus upheld by all members of the international community, that respecting the borderline is the bottom line for sustained peace,” the editorial said.
The English tabloid Global Times — functioning under the People’s Daily — in a series of articles published since Sunday alleged that Indian troops had crossed into China’s Doklam area in the name of helping Bhutan, claimed Indian leaders were using the incident to “appease” domestic and international audiences and warned against using the “Dalai Lama card” amid the border row.
“Even if India were requested to defend Bhutan’s territory, this could only be limited to its established territory, not the disputed area. Otherwise, under India’s logic, if the Pakistani government requests, a third country’s army can enter the area disputed by India and Pakistan, including India-controlled Kashmir,” stated an opinion piece Sunday.
Another opinion article claimed the border row was being used to garner votes. “The Modi government will undergo elections in 2019…(for) Indian leaders the China card is the most convenient tool to whip up the public and provide cannon fodder to India’s unbridled media. For a right-wing, hardliner government such as this, the China threat theory is even more significant,” it stated.
In the China State Council Information Office (SCIO)-run China Daily, Lin Minwang, a researcher at the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University, Shanghai, wrote, “It is becoming clear that India is ready to serve as an ally of the US rather than a swing power that honours independent, non-aligned diplomacy. Beijing should remain vigilant against New Delhi’s moves…” An editorial in the same newspaper warned India to abide by the boundary conventions, “before the situation deteriorates and leads to more serious consequences”.