Some analysts believe that China provoked the military confrontation in Sikkim because of the planned Tuesday meeting of India's prime minister Narendra Modi with president Donald Trump in Washington, and because news stories had signaled greater military cooperation between India and the US, as well as seeing China as a common challenge. The major military outcome of the meeting was the Trump administration's approval of the sale of 22 Guardian maritime drones to India, worth about $2 billion. India had requested to buy the drones late last year, but president Barack Obama left the decision to the new administration. The drones will be unarmed, and will be used for gathering intelligence over the India Ocean. It's against American policy to sell an armed drone to a non-Nato country, India has indicated that it may purchase armed drones from Israel. The joint statement following the meeting between Modi and Trump did not mention China by name, but set out principles that are "central to peace and stability" in the Indo-Pacific region. These principles were clearly directed at China, with additional text specifically directed at North Korea:
# "In accordance with the tenets outlined in the U.N. Charter, they committed to a set of common principles for the region, according to which sovereignty and international law are respected and every country can prosper. The leaders:
reiterate the importance of respecting freedom of navigation, overflight, and commerce throughout the region;
call upon all nations to resolve territorial and maritime disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law;
support bolstering regional economic connectivity through the transparent development of infrastructure and the use of responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law, and the environment; and
call on other nations in the region to adhere to these principles. The leaders strongly condemned continued provocations by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), emphasizing that its destabilizing pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile programs poses a grave threat to regional security and global peace. The leaders called on DPRK to strictly abide by its international obligations and commitments. The leaders pledged to work together to counter the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction programs, including by holding accountable all parties that support these programs." Defense News
*) The items listed above allude to China's invasion and annexation of the South China, which is a violation of international law, and calls for freedom of navigation throughout the region.
The third item in the list alludes to China's "One Belt One Road" (OBOR) project. India has rejected the OBOR project, saying that the massive infrastructure projects violate India's sovereignty in Kashmir. The appearance of this item in the joint statement indicates that the Trump administration agrees with India's objections to the OBOR project.
Needless to say, these statements have infuriated China. According to China state media, if the US "cozies up" to India, it could lead to "catastrophic results," which presumably means a war between India and China:
# "Washington's pursuit of closer ties with New Delhi is mainly driven by its strategic need to utilize India as a tool to counterbalance China.
Washington and New Delhi share anxieties about China's rise. In recent years, to ratchet up geopolitical pressure on China, the US has cozied up to India. But India is not a US ally like Japan or Australia. To assume a role as an outpost country in the US' strategy to contain China is not in line with India's interests. It could even lead to catastrophic results. If India regresses from its non-alignment stance and becomes a pawn for the US in countering China, it will be caught up in a strategic dilemma and new geopolitical frictions will be triggered in South Asia.
In an era when emerging countries have been playing an increasingly important role in global affairs, if India, an important participant in two non-Western organizations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS, can firmly stand together with China in striving for more discourse power, it will be helpful for New Delhi to realize its big power ambitions.
From the end of the 1950s to the beginning of the 1960s, both the Soviet Union and the US wanted to play the India card to check China. Then the Kennedy government supported India's Forward Policy. But the result wasn't what was expected. India isn't able to balance China, which has been proved by history. New Delhi should avoid being roped into a geopolitical trap. Despite its anxieties over China's rise, maintaining a stable relationship with China is of more importance to its security and development." Live Mint (India)
*) The sale of drones to India, and the apparent China "containment" policy of India and the US, are going on at the same time as a flare-up of border clashes in Sikkim. This is a good time to recall that there's another border dispute that's becoming critical: The increasing violence between separatist insurgents and Indian security forces in Kashmir. These are , are all signs of significantly worsening tensions between India and China.... Sputnik News (Moscow) and Global Times (Beijing)