Mr Ellwood made his remarks in the wake of last week’s brutal clashes in the disputed Ladakh region in the north of India, in which at least 23 Indian soldiers were killed in brutal hand-to-hand clashes which he said were reminiscent of the Middle Ages. On Tuesday both sides agreed to take a step back, government officials in New Delhi and Beijing said on Tuesday in an apparent bid to de-escalate the situation – but tensions remain high.
The Bournemouth East MP, who is a prominent member of Parliament’s Chinese Research Group, said he was increasingly concerned by the situation.
He added: “It’s not just the two largest nations on the planet, these are ones with nuclear weapons in their back pockets.
“Therefore we need to watch developments here very carefully.”
China has since blamed India for initiating the violence – but Mr Ellwood said: “What we are seeing with China is a greater resolve to promote its ambitions in a more aggressive style.
“There’s been the South China Sea, Hong Kong and Taiwan and now the Indian /Chinese border in eastern Kashmir.
“The last time they really went head to head was in the 1960s.
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In recent days, fresh evidence had emerged suggesting China was staking a claim to 80 more islands in the South China Sea, some of them underwater, he pointed out.
The situation was complicated by the lack of any obvious mechanism for mediating in the dispute.
Mr Ellwood explained: “China has managed to neutralise the international organisations which would normally arbitrate.
“If India went to the United Nations Security Council, an international resolution would not make the floor – it would be vetoed by China as a permanent member.
“Therefore China is in the perfect place – it is able to advance its own agenda, leveraging the rickety, wobbly world order that nobody is able to improve – and that’s a very dangerous place to be for the rest of us.
“What we are seeing is another front opening up in the conflict with China.”
Addressing the specifics of the Ladakh dispute, Mr Ellwood said: “It’s a bit like Kashmir between Pakistan and India.
“There are a series of localities around China which China has long-claimed going back decades.
“They have never gone beyond written or oral statements but what we are seeing now is a far more aggressive stance where they are willing to move troops into an area and – although not in this case yet – plant flags.”
Mr Ellwood cited a 1996 agreement banning guns from the Ladakh region, a similar situation to that which applied to Cold War Berlin to minimise the risk of conflict between rival soldiers.
He said: “To avoid that there is this large area in the Galwan Valley where no firearms are allowed which means that if you are going to have any impact you have go in there with bats and other things and go hand to hand in the old medieval way.
“But ironically it is abiding by the 1996 agreement.”