The Chinese embassy in India issued a notification on Saturday reminding “Chinese citizens in India to pay attention to their safety”. The official notification came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping informally met on the sidelines of the ongoing G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Earlier this week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Feng Shuang had hinted at the possibility of issuing a travel alert for Chinese citizens going to India pertaining to the ongoing stand-off between China and India in the Sikkim sector.
An article published in Global Times, a state-owned newspaper in China, had also warned Chinese firms to take precaution against being hit by anti-China sentiments. The notification issued in Chinese language read, “Pay close attention to the local security situation, improve self-protection awareness…reduce unnecessary travel. Inform family, colleagues, friends...to keep the communication open. Carry personal identification, stay cautious and strictly comply with Indian laws and regulations, respect local religious customs.”
A.B. Mahapatra, Director, Centre for Asian Strategic Studies-India (CASS-India), said, “It is not surprising that such a notification has been issued. Even in the past, China used their citizens in other countries for propaganda; so if they are giving their citizens a heads-up, then it is apprehensible. Back in 1962, some Chinese officials were alleged of inciting anti-India sentiments in Kolkata and given the location of the ongoing dispute, India would obviously not want negative Chinese influence in the north-eastern states. A similar strategy was used by China in Vietnam, where local agencies had held Chinese for fuelling sentiments.”
Taking note of the tussle between India and China, experts see it as the two nations testing each others’ willingness to fight, as India is not backing down. On the diplomatic front, India has been talking to ASEAN powers and has invited the heads of 10 ASEAN nations to be chief guests at the 2018 Republic Day parade.
Mahapatra said, “China wants to expand its borders. The structure of the Belt and Road Initiative is proof of that. Those countries with which China is not able to sign trade treaties and extend loan with land as collateral, China is trying to build in-roads in those countries. Both India and Bhutan oppose BRI. Therefore, it is important for India to put a strong face not just strategically and diplomatically, but militarily too.”