China’s state-run Global Times stressed the importance of “de-escalating tensions” along the Indian border in a Monday editorial that concluded with belligerent threats to “smash” the Indians unless their troops “remain sober” and their political elites “keep rational.”
The brief editorial from Global Times chief editor Hu Xijin began by excoriating India for reportedly granting “complete freedom of action” to its military commanders to “handle situations at the tactical level” along the contested stretch of the Indian-Chinese border, formally known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC). In other words, the Indian military allegedly told its troops they can use guns to defend themselves in the next clash with China.
Hu reasonably observed that the unstable situation along the LAC will grow much worse if shots are fired, but then launched a tirade of threats and arrogant boasts, taunting the Indians that they will lose every conceivable conflict with China, from rock-throwing contests and kung fu showdowns to economic warfare:
I must warn Indian nationalists: If your soldiers cannot even defeat Chinese soldiers in unarmed clashes, then guns and other firearms will not help them. The reason: The military strength of China is much more advanced and stronger than that of India.
Some Indians arrogantly believe that the modernization of Indian troops will allow them to defeat the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and take revenge on China for India’s defeat in the 1962 border war. I’d love to tell them that there was not much difference between China and India in terms of economic strength in 1962, but today, China’s GDP is about five times that of India and China’s military expenditure is over three times that of India according to Western estimates. If India escalates the border dispute with China into skirmishes or even local wars, it would be like an egg dashing itself against a rock.
China doesn’t want to escalate conflicts with India, but we have sufficient capacity to smash any provocations from the Indian troops. It’s hoped that Indian troops can remain sober and Indian elites keep rational. It’s in India’s interests to work with China to put the border disputes under control.
That is quite a bit of saber-rattling and chest-thumping for an editorial entitled “De-Escalating Tensions on China-India Border Paramount.” In fairness, Indian papers have run some rowdy editorials over the past week, including a good deal of speculation that China is reluctant to disclose how many casualties it suffered from the border clash because the outnumbered Indian troops gave them a shellacking.