It is inevitable that a country with an aggressive foreign policy and dangerously nationalist leaders will have tense relations with its neighbouring countries. So lies the case with India—its jingoistic tendencies have led to stand-offs with Pakistan, Nepal and China, and look to get worse every day. The recent brawl between Indian and Chinese troops on the Himalayan border is an example of this.
The incident is just one of a series of many clashes between India and China, who have been engaged in an increasingly violent and costly face-off along their 2,100-mile-long border since May. Tensions between the two countries surged to an all-time high when at least twenty Indian soldiers were killed during a border clash at the Galwan Valley in June.
The statements from India and China clearly lay out who the aggressor was. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has urged India to exercise restraint and stressed that China’s border troops are committed to upholding peace and tranquillity along the border with India. In contrast, the Indian military has played down the latest skirmish as a “minor face-off”, yet the Indian media, which is largely an arm of the state, continues to exaggerate the conflict with China and paints it as an enemy. A state looking to minimise the conflict would not antagonise the most populous country in the world. Just like it does with Pakistan, the Indian government has encouraged its media to vilify and incite hatred towards China. The government has sought to block Chinese companies from getting deals in India, banning more than 150 Chinese apps made by its tech giants. Chinese products are being halted in customs logjams at Indian ports. These actions will lead to more violence at the borders.
It is welcoming to see China exercise caution when it does not need to. India is on thin ice—instead of helping itself, it continues to aggravate conflict on all its borders.