WW3: China attacked India to ‘send US a message’ claims former diplomat

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In June, 20 Indian soldiers died in a hand-to-hand brawl with People’s Liberation Army troops in Ladakh, in the Himalayas. Both New Delhi and Beijing have since seen peace talks deadlocked while they send more troops to the crucial territory. But Phunchok Stobdan, a former Indian diplomat and expert in India-Chinese relations, suggested China aggressively pushed against the border in response to the US under President Donald Trump.

Mr Stobdan spoke to the Sunday Times about the Ladakh clash and the ensuing border tensions, and said it was an “unprecedented step” from China against India.

He added: “Despite its huge economic stake in the Indian economy, they went for this belligerent expansion.”

But the expert added the conflict was “certainly linked to global politics”, and suggested it may have served as a warning to the US.

He added: “India may have been a proxy target to hit back at the US, which has taken a more aggressive posture towards China under Trump.”

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Ladakh is located along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and is under Indian control as well as bordering Pakistan and China.

PLA forces were spotted mobilising near the Himalayan region in May, with the lethal June clash coming after the

Chinese forces encroached up to 4km into Indian territory.

Jin Canrong, a professor of international relations at Beijing’s Renmin University, added China did not “publicise it because we solved the problem beautifully’, and said: “They didn’t publicise it, either, because they lost so miserably.”

Mr Canrong also added PLA forces took hold of strategic territory in Ladakh in August by turning “mountain tops into a microwave oven” using experimental microwave weaponry.

The professor told students at the university the weapons made Indian soldiers “violently sick” within 15 minutes and forced them to withdraw.

But Lieutenant-General D S Hooda, the former chief of India’s Northern Command, rubbished the claims of experimental weaponry.

He said: “The Chinese claims that a microwave weapon was deployed are not credible. The Chinese are using this for propaganda purposes, to add pressure to the Indian response.”

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It comes as talks between China and India over the LAC dispute have not progressed, after military leaders met virtually on December 18.

Sources familiar with the meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination told the Hindustan Times both sides agreed to hold more talks, but added no breakthrough has been reached.

They said: “Neither side has proposed any date for the military dialogue yet. Any breakthrough in resolving the border row is unlikely without political/diplomatic intervention.”

Lt-Gen Hooda said to the outlet: “The basic reason (for talks yielding no results) is that the positions of the two sides on the conditions of disengagement remain too far apart.

“Unless these conditions are reconciled in diplomatic or political level talks, interaction between the militaries will serve little purpose.”

India has responded to the conflict by signing a defence pact with the US, as well as joining in with its naval drills.

The US, India and Japan all sent naval forces for an annual exercise in the Bay of Bengal last month.

New Delhi also introduced a slew of anti-China legislation in response to rising anger at Beijing in the country, including a ban on Chinese mobile apps such as TikTok.

Indian business figures and Bollywood starts also called for a boycott of Chinese goods, with New Delhi also considering scrapping plans to include Beijing’s telecommunications company Huawei in their 5G network.

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