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China and India Agree to Ease Tensions in Border Dispute

It was not immediately clear whether Chinese and Indian officials had made progress toward a permanent solution. But for the time being, the two sides appeared to have found a way to avoid a serious escalation.

Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, suggested that China might reduce the number of troops in the territory.

“Given that the situation has changed, the Chinese will make necessary adjustments and deployments in line with current conditions,” Ms. Hua said at a daily news briefing in Beijing.

While vowing that China would “protect territorial sovereignty,” she added that “the Chinese government values the development of good-neighbor relations with India.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India is scheduled to visit China next week, placing pressure on Chinese and Indian officials to find a solution.

The BSE, India’s largest stock exchange, shot up several points within minutes of the announcement. However, many in India are likely to see the agreement as a loss of face, because India initially took an aggressive posture about Doklam even though China’s military and economy are both much larger.

The Chinese state-controlled news media portrayed the agreement as a victory for China and a sign that the nation was acting as a “responsible big country” in handling global affairs.

Still, some experts warned that relief could be temporary. “Another standoff is completely possible,” said Zhang Li, an expert on India at Sichuan University in southwest China. “We shouldn’t be overly optimistic.”

Tensions erupted in June when India sent troops to halt a plan by China to extend an unpaved road on the Doklam Plateau, where China, India and the kingdom of Bhutan meet. India does not claim the land, which covers about 34 square miles, but has maintained that it was acting on behalf of Bhutan, a close ally.

Chinese officials were furious and demanded that India pull back. The standoff had seemed to grow tenser by the day. Videos circulated of troops from both countries throwing rocks at each other and bumping torsos. Chinese news outlets produced anti-India propaganda with racist themes.

Some analysts warned about the possibility of war breaking out, with both countries swelling with nationalism and eager to demonstrate muscle.

Privately, the two countries continued to talk, despite the toll the dispute had taken on diplomatic relations.

With India likely to officially surpass China in population in the near future, experts said it was in the interest of Beijing to reach a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

”It would be a strategic disaster for China to make a mortal enemy out of India,” said Daniel C. Lynch, a professor of Asian and international studies at the City University of Hong Kong. “The last thing an aging, economically less vibrant China needs is to fall into a generations-long cold war with India.”

Source: NYT > World

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