China is warning the US to stay out of an ongoing standoff between the People’s Republic and neighbouring India as Washington tries to use warming ties with New Delhi against Beijing.
Modern-day China has largely avoided all-out wars, but it has long been embroiled in a bitter and volatile dispute over the ill-defined Himalayan border between it and India.
The quarrel, which led to war in 1962, turned deadly again recently, leading to new confrontations this week.
As with most skirmishes along the Line of Actual Control, the details of the latest incidents are unclear. Both countries accuse the other of aggression.
But they seem to agree that any solution to the issue should be found strictly by them alone.
This is being interpreted as a warning to the US to stay out of it.
This week, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun blamed the tensions on Beijing’s desire to claim sovereign Indian territory.
Ji Rong, spokesman for China’s embassy in India, accused Biegun of having a cold war mentality.
“China and India have the ability to resolve their border disputes bilaterally,” she said. “We don’t accept countries outside the region pointing fingers, let alone meddling, which will only endanger regional peace and stability.
The US has enlisted India as well as Australia and Japan as part of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” group to enforce unrestricted navigation in a region where China holds vast territorial claims at sea.
However, unlike Canberra and Tokyo, New Delhi has no mutual defence treaty with Washington.
A State Department spokesman recently told Newsweek, “US-India defence and military cooperation has increased significantly over the past two decades as part of the overall strengthening of our bilateral relationship, which reflects a deepening strategic convergence on a range of issues.”