China Media Warns India of 'Military Actions' and 'Severe Losses' As Border Dispute Reignites

Chinese state media has warned that the People's Liberation Army could inflict "severe losses" on Indian troops after the border dispute between the two nations reignited this weekend, with both sides accusing the other of violating the porous frontier.

China's Western Theatre Command claimed Monday that Indian forces had illegally crossed the Line of Actual Control—the disputed demarcation line between the two sides—at Pangong Lake in the Himalayas, where deadly hand-to-hand fighting killed dozens of troops in June.

The Indian army said Monday it had deployed additional forces that "preempted" Chinese "intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground." The military said Chinese troops had made "provocative military movements" in the border area overnight from Saturday to Sunday, prompting the action.

The Chinese state-backed Global Times newspaper—owned by the People's Daily, official publication of the Chinese Communist Party—published an op-ed on Tuesday condemning the "blatant provocative move that seriously infringed on China's territorial sovereignty, and undermined the peace and stability in the China-India border area."

"The word 'preempt' shows it was the Indian troops that first took destructive actions, and the Indian troops initiated the standoff this time," the newspaper added, referring to the Indian army's statement.

July's clashes—the first deadly confrontation between the two giant neighbors since a brief 1962 border war—prompted a tense standoff along the LOAC, with both sides reportedly jostling to fortify their positions and prevent further incursions by the other.

But satellite images indicate that Chinese forces have established positions beyond the demarcation line, seizing what India considers to be its territory and building fortifications to protect their gains.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in June Chinese forces had not taken any Indian territory, but his political opponents have criticized the populist, nationalist leader for perceived inaction.

Media reports in India have indicated that Chinese troops are occupying some 386 square miles of Indian territory. On Tuesday, the opposition Congress party tweeted: "How much more will India have to bear before Modi ji condemns Chinese aggression & actually does something about it?"

"It must be pointed out that New Delhi is facing a powerful China," Global Times wrote. "The PLA has sufficient force to safeguard every inch of the country."

"China welcomes it if India wants to co-exist in peace," the newspaper added. "If India wants to engage in competition, China has more tools and capability than India. If India would like a military showdown, the PLA is bound to make the Indian army suffer much more severe losses than it did in 1962."

The Trump administration and U.S. lawmakers have expressed their support for India, framing the border clash as illustrative of China's wider geopolitical ambitions. Beijing and its media organs have claimed that the U.S. is trying to use India as a proxy to undermine its strategic rival.

Global Times said Tuesday: "India should not have any illusions of Washington's support...The U.S. can only support India verbally. How can it help India grab Chinese territory? What is really in the minds of the Americans is to let India and China consume themselves so that India can become a more useful pawn in the U.S.' China containment strategy."

"China needs to prepare to carry out a military struggle in the China-India border area. We should try our best to resolve frictions through peaceful means," Global Times said. "But when India recklessly challenges China's bottom line, China must not be soft. It must take military actions when necessary, and ensure it can win."

India, China, border, military, tensions, dispute, fight
An Indian fighter jet flies over a mountain range in Leh, the joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh near the border with China on August 31, 2020. MOHD ARHAAN ARCHER/AFP via Getty Images/Getty