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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/15/20

China expands military at India border as Modi accused of surrendering land: Newsweek

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing domestic criticism for allegedly surrendering land to Chinese forces along the disputed Himalayan border between the two nations, where dozens of soldiers are believed to have died in hand-to-hand fighting last month, the Newsweek has said.

Modi, a populist right-wing leader who secured a second term in office last year, has tried to frame the violence and subsequent de-escalation as a story of Indian success.

The prime minister visited the border last week, telling troops: "History is witness that expansionist forces have either lost or were forced to turn back," referring to Chinese forces in the region.

But The New York Times reported this weekend that the Chinese have undertaken a major build-up of forces in the disputed area, setting up new tents and storage facilities supported by artillery pieces, boats and even tanks.

Citing satellite images of the valleys and mountains that form the Line of Actual Control├ ü a loose demarcation line established after the 1962 Sino-Indian War├ ü the New York Times and other observers have said that Chinese troops have maintained positions on the Indian side of the frontier despite Modi's claims of victory.

Gareth Price, a senior research fellow at the Chatham House think tank, told Newsweek that Modi's brand of Hindu nationalism is "all about" projecting strength, but that India is facing a China that is clearly richer and more powerful.

"It is an opportunity to show Modi is not as tough as he thinks he is," Price explained, even though a relatively pliant media and weak opposition means the PM will likely not suffer too much.

Colonel Ajai Shukla of Business Standard says the government is misleading the media while the Chinese incursions represent "the largest loss of territory to China since the 1962 war.

Months of planning preceded China's border moves

China's moves into the Galwan Valley, Pangong Lake area and several other spots along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), starting in early May, were likely planned for months and followed a new mobilisation order issued by President Xi Jinping, The Hindu has quoted Indian officials as saying.

Several Chinese incursions across the LAC took place almost simultaneously in locations several hundred kilometres apart some even hours apart on the same day leading to skirmishes in early and mid-May. The timing of the incidents suggested a high level of coordination and planning, the officials said.

In Galwan Valley and Pangong Lake, the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) deployments appeared to have been aimed at pushing India back from the LAC and redrawing it to more closely align with China's official borders.

A buffer zone that both sides have temporarily agreed to in Galwan has, on China's insistence, been structured around Beijing's new LAC perception, shifting the line around 1 km west.

In Pangong Lake, China has thinned its presence from its LAC perception at Finger 4 but moved only to Finger 5, still much deeper inside from the Indian claim line at Finger 8 which is about 8 km from Finger 4.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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