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India’s Modi On China Border Dispute: Peace Not Won By Weakness

The face-off between Indian and Chinese troops along the border in Ladakh, India has led to fights between soldiers on both sides, and on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the military in Ladakh and told them that peace cannot be won through submission.

“Everyone accepts peace and friendship for the progress of the nation, of the world, of humanity; everyone believes peace is important,” he says of the border battle, wearing a baseball cap and an olive green hooded parka. “But we also know that peace can never be won by the weak. The weak cannot initiate peace. Bravery is the precondition for peace,” he said today, talking about India’s new defense spending and its control of a rocky, mostly barren strip of land along the Line of Control in Ladakh, not far from Chinese controlled Tibet.

The region has been a sore spot for India and China since World War II, but China has been more assertive as it too grows its own defense apparatus and seeks to expand, and protect, its new One Belt One Road initiative.

Modi did not mention China in his speech today.

The two countries are part of a decade old economic and policy initiative between them, Russia, Brazil and South Africa. But the pandemic has painted China in a bad light. A ministerial meeting of BRICS trade ministers is taking place in Moscow on July 17. So far that has not been canceled.

Speaking on Friday, Modi called the Ladakh a symbol of respect for over 130 million Indians.

“This land is the land of the nationalists who are always ready to sacrifice for India,” he said. “Every conspiracy to create segregation here has been foiled by the patriotic people of Ladakh.”

Modi made the surprise visit to talk to troops in Ladakh on Friday morning. He concluded by saying that those who sacrificed their lives in the clash with China’s military last month epitomized the nation’s ethos and bravery. He said India’s enemies have seen his country’s ‘fire and fury’.

Modi, a Hindu nationalist, has come under fire over the last several years for being problematic for Indian Muslims. The prime battlefront in that regard has been Kashmir, another bone of contention for Modi over a swath of land left scarred by the divide and conquer strategies of the colonial British government that pit Muslims against Hindus, all living between India and Pakistan.

The tensions over the Ladakh have led to store owners in that part of India to call for boycotts of China goods, and out right bans on selling them.

In a separate issue, but perhaps one that can be chalked up as being politically motivated by the border dispute, the Indian government banned some 56 Chinese apps, including famous names WeChat and TikTok.

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