The standoff between India and China over Doklam erupted on Twitter on Thursday. China’s state media outlet Xinhua News Agency posted a video on Twitter mocking India over the border crisis, calling India a ‘robber’ who is seeking negotiation and refuses to leave
The 3-minute video presented by anchor Dier Wang accuses India of “seven sins” that include “trespassing, violating bilateral conventions, trampling International law, confusing right and wrong, putting the blame on the victim, hijacking a small neighbour and sticking to a mistake knowingly.”
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) August 16, 2017
Interestingly, since Twitter is banned in China, the video was posted through Xinhua’s English-language account on Twitter.
The bizarre propaganda video also has an actor representing India with a clumsy beard mocking India throughout the video, in what could be argued is a racist attempt to misrepresent the dispute between the two countries.
The video starts with the anchor’s claim that China has realised “that its impossible to awaken a guy who’s pretending to be asleep”.
Let us take a look at some of the major claims made by the Chinese news agency in the video and whether its justified?
1) Did Indian troops trespass and enter China’s territory?
CLAIM: “On June 18, Indian border troops carrying weapons and driving bulldozers illegally crossed the delimited boundary into the UNDISPUTED Chinese territory”
IN CONTEXT: While China are free to claim that India trespassed into its territory, the actual situation on the ground and the events leading to June 18 show a different picture. Several reports point out (Read this and this) that the dispute arose when Chinese PLA engineers started work with road rollers, bulldozers and excavators at Doklam to extend a road that would come close to India’s border. While China claims that the territory is ‘UNDISPUTED’, Bhutan is yet to agree on the same.
The Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) angered by the China’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) action to destroy stone bunkers built by them, resisted the Chinese troops and construction crew. The RBA reminded PLA of bilateral commitments, the most recent signed in 1998 that agreed not to alter the status quo in disputed areas, as confirmed by this press release from India’s ministry of external affairs on June 30. With PLA refusing to step back, Bhutan sought India’s help. The Indian army crossed the border on June 18 and forced the Chinese crew to discontinue its road building work, escalating the tension between the two nations.
2) Did India violate bilateral commitments and trample international laws?
CLAIM: “Both India and the international community have recognised the place as a part of China according to 1890 convention between Great Britain and China….. Didn’t your Mama tell you never break the law?”
IN CONTEXT: China’s strongest point is the treaty signed with the British in 1890 at a time when India as a sovereign nation did not exist. The treaty signed in Calcutta on March 17, 1890 and called the Convention Between Great Britain and China Relating to Sikkim and Tibet has been claimed by China as to have settled all its disputes with its neighbours. But for India, that attained Independence in 1947, the strategic area at Doklam still remains as disputed territory that is yet to be resolved. The Tibetan government had also refused to accept the treaty despite several interventions by the British government.
The boundary details are clearly described by Article I of the Convention, which states
Over the last 100 years since the 1890 Convention, 24 rounds of negotiations between the three countries have taken place but the disputes are yet to be resolved. China often cites India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s letters to China’s Prime Minister Zhou Enlai in 1959 which they claim settles the dispute between the two countries. China has emphasised that in these letters, Nehru had acknowledged that the boundary between Sikkim and Tibet “was defined by the 1890 Convention and demarcated by the two sides on the ground in 1895” and that “there’s no dispute over the boundary between Sikkim and Xi Zang, China”.
But this article by The Hindu examines the letters written by Nehru in detail and explains how China picked selective lines from the letter to enforce its unilateral claim without acknowledging that Nehru had explicitly stated in the letter that the 1890 treaty defined only the northern part of the Sikkim-Tibet border and not the tri-junction area that brings Bhutan into play.
Morever in 2012, China and India had agreed that the tri-junction points between the two countries and the third party countries will be finalised via talks, a fact not disputed by China.
3) Has India “hijacked small neighbour” Bhutan?
CLAIM: “Bhutanese authorities have clearly told Chinese officials that Doklam is not their territory and they are also confused by India’s behaviour.”
FACT: A clear lie, if Bhutan’s recent statements are referred to. In an interview to The Hindu in the last week of June, soon after the two countries (India and China) sparred with each other, Ambassador of the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Delhi Major-General V Namgyam said, “Bhutan has conveyed that the road construction by the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] is not in keeping with the agreements between China and Bhutan [over boundary resolution]. We have asked them to stop and refrain from changing the status quo.”