June 17, 2020 / 11:33 AM / 23 days ago

Factbox: Indian media call for strong response to border clash with China

MUMBAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Indian media commentators called on Wednesday for a strong response to a border clash with Chinese troops that led to the deaths of at least 20 Indian soldiers, with some questioning the Indian government’s silence on the issue.

A supporter of India's ruling Bharatiya Jayanta Party (BJP) holds a placard during a protest against China, in Kolkata, India, June 17, 2020. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

Chinese media largely refrained from commentary on the incident, though the editor of a paper linked to the ruling Communist Party warned India that China did not fear a clash.

Here is a round-up of commentary from both countries:

INDIA

“The timing of the Chinese aggression and Beijing’s assertive claims in the Galwan valley appear to be part of a strategy to remind India of its vulnerabilities,” said an editorial in the Times of India, the country’s best-selling English-language newspaper.

“If this is the case then India, as a proud nation, should do exactly what the Chinese don’t want and undertake diplomatic countermeasures against Beijing.”

Others went further.

“We’re dealing with medieval brutes,” said Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief of Republic Media Network. “We’ll have to go out and give them (China) a very bloody nose. We’ll have to hit them where it will really hurt the Chinese. And trust me, we know where that is.”

“The Chinese army reneged on the promise of pulling its troops back from forward posts,” said Sudhir Chaudhary, Editor-in-Chief, Zee News. “By attacking the Indian army without any provocation, they have challenged the might of our nation which must give a befitting response to China. We cannot talk about peace any longer. The killing of our soldiers has to be avenged.”

Shishir Gupta, editor of the Hindustan Times, said the answer to the skirmish “does not lie in mere economic retaliation”.

“While a section within the Indian government advises diplomatic resolution of the June 15 face-off, the only answer to the PLA’s (Chinese army) belligerence is standing up to them and holding the territory,” he said. “The PLA must learn to respect the Indian army.”

There was some criticism of the government, which has provided limited information on the tensions.

“There exists no spelt-out government narrative on how and why events have marched to a flare-up. Over the past nearly eight weeks... the government’s posture has remained a mix of denial, indifference and obfuscation,” said Sankarshan Thakur, National Affairs Editor of the Telegraph newspaper.

“The blunt truth... is that New Delhi has spoken of moves at both the diplomatic and military levels to “de-escalate” and resolve issues, but has never spelt out what it is that needs resolution and de-escalation.”

CHINA

In China, the incident has not been given wall-to-wall coverage. Official media have stuck largely to Tuesday’s statement from the Chinese army’s Western Command about the incident. On social media, bloggers and media-aggregating platforms shared Indian media reports, such as the Indian army’s announcement acknowledging that the death toll had risen to 20.

Most vocal was the Global Times, a paper published by the official paper of the ruling Communist Party. Its editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin, took to domestic and global social media platforms to scold India, saying “Indian public opinion needs to stay sober” and to warn that China did not fear a clash.

It was unclear if the topic would have been allowed to trend on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter, given that its top-ten trending topic function is currently disabled. Still, hashtag “China India border clash” had been viewed 350 million times there. On popular short video platform Douyin, the news was not trending.

Many comments that could be seen on the heavily censored platforms were nationalistic in tone.

“You should be careful in misjudging China’s restraint as weakness, and be careful not to behave with arrogance in front of China,” said one Weibo user, echoing Hu.

Compiled by Abhirup Roy, Shilpa Jamkhandikar in MUMBAI, Mayank Bhardwaj in NEW DELHI and Huizhong Wu in BEIJING editing by Alasdair Pal and Mark Heinrich

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