China on Thursday accused India of escalating tensions along their disputed border, adding troops and building up roads high in the Himalayas in a monthlong standoff between the world’s two most populous nations.
“It has already been more than a month since the incident, and India is still not only illegally remaining on Chinese territory, it is also repairing roads in the rear, stocking up supplies, massing a large number of armed personnel,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement. ‘This is certainly not for peace.”
“China will take all necessary measures to safeguard its legitimate and lawful rights and interests,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry declared, calling upon India to withdraw its troops “immediately and unconditionally” from the disputed area.
With opposition parties criticizing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s handling of the border crisis, the Indian Foreign Ministry responded in more muted fashion, saying in a statement Wednesday, “India considers that peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas is an important prerequisite for smooth development of our bilateral relations with China.”
The long-simmering conflict ignited on June 18, when Indian troops stopped Chinese construction forces in the Doklam (Dong Lang) Plateau, near the borders of China, India and Bhutan.
Both countries claim rights to the plateau: China declares ownership, while India claims it belongs to Bhutan, India’s ally. For India, the plateau has security importance because of its proximity to the “Chicken Neck,” a strip of land connecting mainland India to its northeastern states.
Since a border war between the two nations in 1962, small border spats have occurred frequently, but the latest conflict appears more serious. Though no blood has been shed, both sides have poured troops into the area, refusing to back down.
Away from the border,India refused to participate in China’s “One Belt, One Road” economic development initiative, and China blocked India from joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an international body that oversees nuclear technology trade.