World War 3 warning: China and India border frictions threaten to ‘spiral’ out of control

China-India: Expert issues warning over ‘risk’ of tensions

Defence expert Shashank Joshi has warned that despite arrangements made between China and India to ease tensions on the border, a miscalculation could lead to war. Asked whether the two countries could go to war, Mr Joshi told BBC News: “There is and I think for a long time that fear was suppressed the seriousness because the two sides had agreed to lots of things to ease tensions. For example, they agreed soldiers on patrol would not use their weapons.

“They wouldn’t fire their weapons under any circumstances.

“They agreed that if a patrol came across another patrol in a disputed area, they would make their statements but then they would go their separate way.

“You’ve built up these diplomatic agreements to lower the temperature.

“I think last year it showed all these wide diplomatic tensions, not just to do with the border but also trade and ideology, those undertakings have broken down.

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“Therefore even very small clashes or friction do have the ability and risk or spiralling much bigger with much of firepower deployed in pretty close proximity between the two states.”

It comes as Indian and Chinese troops were involved in a “minor face-off” last week in a disputed stretch of their shared border in the eastern Himalayas, the Indian army said on Monday, underlining the fraught situation at the border.

China said the two sides must refrain from escalatory actions.

Nuclear-armed India and China have been in a tense standoff since April in the western Himalayas and since then have bolstered forces all along the 3,800-km (2,350-mile) border.

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The Indian Army said in a statement: “It is clarified that there was a minor face-off at Nakula area of North Sikkim on 20 January 2021 and the same was resolved by local commanders as per established protocols.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said he didn’t have anything to offer on the incident but urged India to exercise restraint.

“I would like to stress though that China’s border troops are committed to upholding peace and tranquillity along the border with India. We urge the Indian side to work in the same direction as us and refrain from actions that might escalate or complicate the situation along the border,” he told a regular news briefing.

“We hope both sides will take proper actions to manage their differences and take concrete actions to safeguard peace and stability along the border.”


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Sikkim is in the eastern Himalayas, thousands of miles away from Ladakh where the military crisis began last year and erupted into hand-to-hand combat that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and an unspecified number of Chinese casualties.

Indian media reports said the latest row in Sikkim had resulted in injuries on both sides. The military offered no comment but advised caution on such reports. “Media is requested to refrain from overplaying or exaggerating reports which are factually incorrect,” it said.

On Sunday, India and Chinese military commanders held talks running for several hours to try and find a way out of the stalemate. Several rounds of talks have been held over the past few months to disengage troops facing each other off on inhospitable mountains in freezing temperatures.

No word has yet emerged in the latest round of talks.

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