'A chance of war' between India and China as nuclear rivals dispute remote territory

 

Chinese commentators have warned "there could be a chance of war" with India due to an escalating dispute over a remote territory in the Himalayas.

Beijing claims the Indian troops are occupying its soil, but both Bhutan and India maintain the area in question is Bhutanese territory.

Since mid-June both Chinese and Indian soldiers have lined up against each other on the highly-disputed Doklam - a narrow plateau lying in the tri-junction of Bhutan, China and India.

More troops have been sent to the frontline in recent days.

PICTURED: A Chinese and Indian soldier at the Nathu La border crossing between India and China in India's Sikkim state. Photo: AFP


Any outbreak of hostitlities could have a destating effect with the nuclear nations thought to collectively have more than 350 tipped missiles between them - India, 100 and China, more than 250.

New road the cause of the problem

The two are said to be at loggerheads over the building of a new road - much the same as they were half a century ago when the two went to war - on the Chinese controlled, but disputed, plateau.

In early June, China kicked off construction on a new road leading to the Doklam plateau.

The country has accused Indian troops stationed in Bhutan - a small Himalayan kingdom with close military and economic ties to India - from straying across the frontier to prevent the road's construction.

China's state news agency Xinhua highlighted the Indian military's "trespass into Chinese territory is a blatant infringement on China's sovereignty”.

However, Bhutan says it is the rightful owner of the plateau.

The area at the heart of the dispute. Source: Google Maps

The Times of India said on Tuesday that around 300 to 400 Indian troops were "eyeball to eyeball" with China in a "non-agressive confrontation" but thousands more soldiers from both sides are close by.

The Indian External Affairs Ministry said a 2012 agreement between the three countries meant the frontier at the tri-junction would be finalised and any attempt to unilaterally determine the tri-junction point is a "violation of this understanding", The Hindustan Times reported.

Last week, China's ambassador to New Delhi, Luo Zhaohui, said the situation was "grave” and Indian troops should "unconditionally pull back to the Indian side”.

India concerned over Chinese influence

It's understood India is becoming increasingly worried about the Chinese prescence after Beijing has continued making an input in their country, funding big infrastacture projects in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

It's understood India is becoming increasingly worried over China's prescence in the country. Photo: AAP

A maritime analyst said Delhi is increasingly worried.

"That means India is in some ways going to be surrounded by Chinese infrastructure projects. The fear is these Chinese ports could later be used for maritime and naval deployments,” Abhijit Singh of the Observer Research Foundation told the ABC.

Earlier this month, China's Global Times quoted domestic security experts as saying that there could be a chance of war if the recent conflict between China and India is not handled properly.

"China will resolutely defend its territory and safeguard the border," it reported.

The face-off is in its third week with analysts maintaining that armed conflict between the two Asian powers is unlikely at this stage.

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