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Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019

Doklam standoff: China warns India, says restraint has ‘bottom line’

China says it has shown utmost goodwill and communicated with India through diplomatic channels to resolve the Doklam incident but that restraint has its “bottom line”.

world Updated: Aug 04, 2017 16:17 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
A Chinese soldier and an Indian soldier at the Nathu La border crossing between India and China in Sikkim. A border standoff has heightened tension between the two neighbours.
A Chinese soldier and an Indian soldier at the Nathu La border crossing between India and China in Sikkim. A border standoff has heightened tension between the two neighbours.(AFP File Photo / Representational)

China on Friday warned its restraint has a “bottom line” and demanded that India immediately withdraw its troops from Doklam to end a military standoff near the Sikkim border that is currently in its second month.

A statement issued by the defence ministry said “goodwill has its principles and restraint has its bottom line”, adding the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had shown a high level of restraint.

This was the latest in a string of strongly worded Chinese statements that put the onus of ending the face-off in the Doklam or Donglang region on India. New Delhi has said both sides should pull back their troops before talks can begin.

The statement said Indian border troops illegally crossed the border into Chinese territory on June 18 and obstructed road construction work on the Chinese side.

“Since the incident occurred, China has shown utmost goodwill and sought to communicate with India through diplomatic channels to resolve the incident. Chinese armed forces have also shown a high level of restraint with an eye to the general bilateral relations and the regional peace and stability,” defence ministery spokesperson Ren Guoqiang said.

The statement was released a day after India’s external affairs ministry said peace and tranquillity on the India-China boundary constituted an important prerequisite for the smooth development of bilateral relations.

The Chinese statement rejected India’s view and said this was a delaying tactic.

“Ren urged the Indian side to give up the illusion of its delaying tactic, as no country should underestimate the Chinese forces’ confidence and capability to safeguard peace and their resolve and willpower to defend national sovereignty, security and development interests,” it said.

Ren added that Chinese armed forces will resolutely protect the country’s territorial sovereignty and security interests.

China has repeatedly blamed India for the Doklam impasse, accusing Indian soldiers of trespass and preventing Chinese soldiers from building a road in the region, which is under Chinese control but claimed by Bhutan.

Beijing has also said the two sides can open talks only after the Indian troops are withdrawn. New Delhi says the road, if built, will have serious security implications and alter the status quo.

“The defence ministry’s statement pointed out that China has shown tolerance. But that doesn’t come without principles,” Wang Dehua, from the Shanghai Municipal Centre for International Studies, told Hindustan Times.

“The bottom line is the boundary line (in Sikkim), which has already been settled. India should withdraw all intruders immediately without any condition,” Wang added.

It is in India’s interest to withdraw, said Shanghai-based military expert Ni Lexiong.

Even if the Indian military has initial advantages in case of hostilities in terms of geography, climate and deployment, the Chinese military will be able to overcome difficulties, Ni said.

“India does not have its own system of defence industrial production, and when having a comprehensive war with China within the scope of conventional war, even if the beginning can be well, it will soon be unsustainable,” Ni said.

“China’s hi-tech defence industry is self-contained and efficient. Moreover, the geographical and climatic obstacles on the border plateau are not insurmountable for the Chinese military.”

First Published: Aug 04, 2017 11:27 IST

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