BEIJING — An outspoken Chinese general known for his nationalist views warned India on Thursday against stirring up “new trouble” in a long-running border dispute, just as New Delhi’s defence minister was set to visit Beijing.
“The Indian side should not provoke new problems and increase military deployment at the border areas and stir up new trouble,” Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan told reporters.
Luo, the deputy-director general of the world military research department at a People’s Liberation Army academy, described himself at a briefing as a “reasonable hardliner.”
His articles appear prominently in state media, and he has 320,000 followers on Sina Weibo, a popular Twitter-like microblogging site.
He made waves last year with comments questioning the legitimacy of Japanese sovereignty over the Ryukyu Islands, a chain that includes Okinawa and hosts numerous United States military bases.
“India is the only country in the world that says that it is developing its military power because of China’s military threat,” said Luo, who was wearing a business suit.
“So I believe that India should be very cautious in what it does and what it says.”
A high-altitude frontier dispute between the nuclear-armed giants in the Himalayas has simmered for decades but intensified in May over troop movements in the region.
New Delhi alleged Chinese troops intruded nearly 20 kilometers into Indian-claimed territory.
A three-week standoff ensued and was resolved after talks between local military leaders and a withdrawal of troops from both sides.
The border situation was now generally “under control” following a visit to India in May by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Luo said.
His comments came as Indian defence chief A.K. Antony was due to arrive in China late Thursday for three days of talks, the first such trip in seven years.
Antony’s visit, on which he is accompanied by top Indian military commanders, coincides with a trip to China by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Pakistan, India’s nuclear-armed neighbour and archrival, is a longstanding close ally of Beijing. Chinese officials describe their relationship with Islamabad as one between “all weather friends”.
Covering a wide range of topics, Luo touched on China’s history of humiliation by foreign powers in the 19th and 20th centuries.
“No other major country in this world has been subjected to foreign aggression and invasion by other major countries, so that is why no other country is more eager than China to become strong,” he said.
Besides India, Luo also took swipes at the US and the Philippines over a territorial row China has with the Southeast Asian country.
Calling the US “biased,” he said Washington has “added fuel to the fire” by cooperating with Manila amid the maritime dispute.
“The role of the Philippines in the South China Sea is actually, in my view, a troublemaker,” he said.
On Sunday, Manila accused Beijing of a “massive” military buildup in the sea, which is also the site of rival claims by Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Asked by AFP if Beijing’s close ally North Korea — which this year threatened to attack the US with nuclear weapons — was also a “troublemaker,” Luo suggested, albeit indirectly, that it was.
He referred to a speech Chinese President Xi Jinping gave in April saying there should be no tolerance for those fostering “chaos for selfish gains,” wording widely seen at the time as criticizing Pyongyang without mentioning it by name.
“So we can imagine which country it is or which countries they are that are engaged in undermining peace and stability in our neighbouring environment for their own selfish gains,” Luo said.