Is the India-China Border Heating Up Again?

Marie Harrington
October 11, 2017

After trending on social media on Sunday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's "Namaste" diplomacy also won the hearts of the Chinese.

Sitharaman is India's first female defence minister. "The Sikkim sector of the China-India boundary has been delimited by the historical treaty of 1890, and the Nathula pass has been the best witness testifying to this fact", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing while reacting to a question on Sitharaman's visit, PTI reported.

Ms. Sitharaman has also informed the Army of her request to Home Minister Rajnath Singh for provisioning of Humanitarian And Disaster Relief (HADR) equipment to allow the Indian Army to use them during natural disasters. Ms Sitharaman referred to her visits to forward areas and meeting with troops as "eye-opening", an official statement said.

When Indian soldiers present there try to prompt the answer, she promptly stops them, telling them to let the Chinese figure out the meaning on their own.

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Citing Qian Feng, an expert at the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies, China's state-controlled Global Times reports, "The greeting sent a goodwill signal towards mending bilateral ties and putting relations back on track toward normality". "This is commonly regarded as the attitude of the Narendra Modi government", it said.

On her twitter handle, she said Chinese soldiers from across the border took pictures of hers when she reached Nathu La. She later met Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling at his official residence and sought the state government's intervention in solving the issues between the Army and the state's forest department. Chief of Eastern Command Lt Gen Abhay Krishna briefed her about the Indian army's security preparedness along the border.

The conflict, in an area claimed by both Beijing and Bhutan, an ally of India, lasted for 73 days until the two sides withdrew their troops - or at least claimed to - in early September.

The Indian minister's visit came amid reports that China has strengthened its military presence at the Doklam Plateau and even started constructing a road in Chumbi valley, about 10km from Doklam.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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