Border standoff: India warns of serious impact

In this October 27, 2015 file photo, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang points out a reporter at a regular news conference in Beijing.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

China’s actions at the Doko La (Doklam) tri-junction in Sikkim between India, China and Bhutan have “serious security implications,” New Delhi warned on Friday, indicating that while talks have been ongoing between Indian and Chinese officials, there is no resolution yet to the standoff.

“India is deeply concerned at the recent Chinese actions and has conveyed to the Chinese government that such construction would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for India,” said a government statement, the first since the tensions were made public earlier this week.

Attempting to play down the situation, India said it remained committed to finding a “peaceful resolution through dialogue.” However, Beijing, which has been unusually shrill in its comments, issued its fifth statement in as many days, demanding that India withdraw troops as a “precondition for any meaningful dialogue.”

“The Indian troops trespassed the recognised and delineated boundary... So the most pressing issue is the withdrawal of troops into the Indian territory,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said.

Mr Lu’s statement comes a day after releasing photographs that purported to show Indian troops on Chinese land.

Meanwhile Defence Minister Arun Jaitley spoke out at a conference organised by TV Today on Friday as well, saying “The situation in 1962 was different and the India of today is different,” in response to the Chinese statement telling New Delhi to “remember history” and the 1962 war.

Revealing the series of events that have unfolded over the past fortnight, the government said on June 16, a PLA team carrying construction equipment crossed into Bhutanese territory at Doko La over the Zom Cheri ridge and tried to begin building a road. When Bhutanese soldiers protested, India claims the Chinese soldiers pushed them back to their posts.

“In coordination with the Royal Government of Bhutan, Indian personnel, who were present at general area Doka La, approached the Chinese construction party and urged them to desist from changing the status quo,” the government said, although it denied the Chinese claim that Indian troops had transgressed into Chinese territory in the process.

Four days later, a border personnel meeting (BPM) was held at Nathu La and diplomats in Delhi and Beijing have been holding regular meetings with the respective foreign ministries in an effort to defuse the crisis. Bhutan and China have been similarly engaged. However, it is unlikely that the three countries will hold a trilateral unless tensions are visibly decreased.

There are several reasons for New Delhi’s growing concerns over the situation. The Chinese aggression came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping had what officials called a “warm and cordial” meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, where they had even discussed the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra route through Sikkim, which now stands cancelled.

For Chinese troops to transgress over non-finalised borders in Sikkim and into Bhutanese territory is unprecedented, and is a violation of agreements with Bhutan from 1998 and 1999 as well as with India in 2012 to maintain the status quo, and causes special worries for the future. This is the only part of the India-China boundary that is considered “settled” between the two countries, and it was for this reason that China had opened out the motorable route for Indian pilgrims.

While Indian and Chinese troops have faced off at the LAC in Chumar and Depsang earlier, the Doko La episode is the most significant such face-off.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 12:12:13 AM |

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