China betrays India border commitment

In a characteristic display of Chinese Communist Party duplicity, the People’s Liberation Army is utterly ignoring commitments made to India by China’s foreign minister on Sept. 10.

Yes, commitments made publicly just six days ago. Designed to reduce rising tensions along the India-China line-of-control border area, the two nations’ foreign ministers met in Moscow. Following discussions, each agreed to military pullbacks from aggressive patrols. The announcement was welcomed as a sign that the nuclear powers might suspend a seemingly unstoppable spiral toward war.

Unfortunately, as with most of its commitments on issues ranging from Hong Kong to intellectual property to carbon emissions, this Chinese pledge wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.

Addressing the Indian Parliament on Tuesday, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh warned that Chinese forces were openly ignoring China’s peaceful promises. The Indian army, Singh said, was stopping the most egregious patrols, but tensions are again rising. Indian forces have consolidated their operational positions and logistics trains. A firefight, unarmed melee, or exchange of fire between the two sides is increasingly likely.

Except that this time, China doesn’t appear interested in even pretending that it isn’t responsible. Responding to Singh, Hu Xijin warned that “the [People’s Liberation Army] has been increasing its deployment in China-India border areas and taking resolute actions, which have formed an overwhelming momentum to annihilate the Indian troops on site once an armed clash breaks out.” Editor of the communist Global Times rag, Hu is a top mouthpiece for the Standing Committee in Beijing.

Only communist China could offer a commitment to peace and a war cry of annihilation in the same week. It’s not surprising, of course. Xi Jinping’s China cares nothing for the rights and very lives of its citizens, let alone those of others. But the aggression has deeper roots than communist instincts alone.

In India, China sees a rising competitor in the struggle to shape international order in the 21st century. Xi knows that if India decides to join the United States in defense of a democratic rule-of-law-based order, he has a big problem. A partnership between the world’s most populous democracy and the world’s most powerful democracy would mean a major obstacle to the Communist Party’s global ambition, which is to say that the displacement of the post-war U.S.-led liberal international order with a feudal mercantile order ruled from on high by Beijing. By pressuring India in a showdown that evokes sentiments of nationalism, global prestige, and leadership credibility, Xi is attempting to scare Narendra Modi into submission. Put simply, Xi wants to put the Indian tiger back in its box before it can roam free.

His sectarian flaws aside, I believe Modi will find the resolve to stand firm in defense of his nation and people.

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