An Indian boxer beat his Chinese opponent in a championship bout and then offered the belt back to him in a bid to ease growing tensions between the two neighbouring countries.
Vijender Singh, 31, triumphed over China’s Zulpikar Maimaitiali, 23, after a 10-round fight at the National Sports Club of India in Mumbai on Sunday, reports the Guardian.
Singh successfully defended his WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight title and also took his opponent’s WBO Oriental super middleweight belt, but dedicated his win to “China-India friendship” and offered to return the belt to his opponent.
“I don’t want this title. I will give it back to Zulpikar,” he told the packed arena.
“I don’t want tension on the border. It’s a message of peace. That’s important.”
The two nations have been locked in a fierce territorial dispute over a contested region, high in the Himalayas, where China, India and Bhutan meet.
The current standoff started in June when Chinese troops, construction vehicles and road-building equipment began moving into what Bhutan, a small country with strong ties to India, considers to be its territory.
The Chinese were attempting to extend a border road, which India had previously said no to due to fears it could give China greater access to India’s strategically vulnerable “chicken’s neck”, a 20km (12-mile) wide corridor that links the seven north-eastern states to the Indian mainland.
Bhutan then requested assistance from Delhi, which sent its own troops in to resist the Chinses advance.
Forces in the region tend not to carry weapons in a bid to avoid escalation, so the Chinese and Indian troops reportedly clashed by bumping chests in order to force the opposing side backwards.
The Chinese foreign ministry on Thursday said India had been building up troops and repairing roads along its side of the border.
“It has already been more than a month since the incident and India is still not only illegally remaining on Chinese territory, it is also repairing roads in the rear, stocking up supplies, massing a large number of armed personnel,” said a foreign ministry statement from Beijing.
“This is certainly not for peace.”
Hu Zhiyong, of the Institute of International Relations at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, wrote in the Global Times : “China will not allow the military standoff between China and India in Doklam to last for too long, and there may be a small-scale military operation to expel Indian troops within two weeks.”
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