China on Tuesday did not seem to rule out taking military action as a possibility to end the standoff between its and Indian troops at the Doklam plateau as, it said, the situation there had acquired a “dangerous” dimension. It feels a mutual pullout of forces from the area, as proposed by India, is not an option.
“If India continues going down the wrong path, we have the right to use any action under international law to protect the lives of its troops. New Delhi should stop sending signals that everything is under control,’’ said Wang Wenli, a Chinese diplomat in the department of the boundary and oceanic affairs, in an interaction with a visiting Indian media delegation .
Ms. Wang appeared to signal that time was running out to peacefully resolve the crisis which, she said, could be defused only by the unilateral withdrawal of Indian troops from the Doklam plateau.
Ms. Wang said that China’s perception of the current standoff was qualitatively different and serious, compared to the previous such occasions. She stressed that during earlier face-offs — such as Demchok and Chumar — China never issued any position paper — a reference to the 15-page foreign ministry note of August 2 on the Doklam situation.
She pointed out that Chinese people were closely following the issue, signaling the growing domestic pressures on the Chinese establishment to end the standoff.
Her remarks come at a time when the top leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is in a huddle at the Beidaihe coastal retreat not far from the Chinese capital.
The meeting is a part of a tradition, which began after the emergence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), where the CPC, after considerable brainstorming, takes major decisions on major domestic and international issues and situations.
Analysts say that despite the secrecy associated with the event, a serious discussion on the Doklam issue cannot be ruled out. According to the South China Morning Post , Chinese President Xi Jinping left for Beidaihe soon after inspecting an Inner Mongolia parade, marking the 90th anniversary of the formation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
'No simultaneous troop withdrawal'
Ms. Wang rejected simultaneous troop withdrawals by Chinese and Indian troops from Doklam as proposed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
“We have made it very clear that this is not Indian territory; they are interfering in China’s territorial sovereignty and this can be very dangerous. Under these conditions when Indian troops are on our soil, it is impossible for China to conduct any dialogue,’’ she said.
The diplomat dismissed a perception that Bhutan invited Indian troops into Doklam following the construction of the road by China. She said that after many rounds of talks following the Doklam incident, Bhutan made it very clear to China that it was unaware of India’s “trespassing” into the area.
New Delhi, however, has stated that it moved its troops “in coordination with the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB)”.
She said that following China’s road construction, only eight Bhutanese soldiers crossed over, but returned, never to show up again.
These remarks coincide with the Ministry of External Affairs' June 30 statement, which said, “It is our understanding that a Royal Bhutan Army patrol attempted to dissuade them [Chinese road construction party] from this unilateral activity.”
Ms. Wang said that in the mid-nineties, Bhutan agreed that Donglang, the Chinese name for Doklam, belonged to China. After 24 rounds of boundary talks, Beijing and Thimphu had worked out a “basic consensus” on the situation and alignment of the boundary, she observed.
A disputed territory, says Bhutan
However, Bhutan’s ambassador to India, Vetsop Namgyel, is on record stating that, “Doklam is a disputed territory and Bhutan has a written agreement with China that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, peace and tranquility should be maintained in the area.”
The Chinese official rejected India’s contention that contrary to an agreement in 2012 between the Special Representatives of the two countries, China unilaterally changed the status quo in the tri-junction area of the Doklam plateau.
Ms. Wang reiterated that the area of the standoff was not in the tri-junction area but 2 km away from Mount Gipmochi-the exact location of the tri-junction point, as perceived by China.