Chinese foreign minister blames India for Doklam standoff
China’s foreign minister Wang Yi has blamed India for triggering the military standoff near the Sikkim border, calling on New Delhi to withdraw its border troops to resolve the crisis.
Wang is the senior-most Chinese official so far to have commented on the impasse that has entered its second month and plunged bilateral ties to an icy low.
A statement in Chinese issued by the foreign ministry quoted Wang as telling reporters in Thailand that Indian officials had “admitted” Chinese troops didn’t cross into Indian territory. This, he said, means Indian soldiers had entered Chinese territory.
The “problem was very straightforward”, Wang told reporters, and that “even Indian officials publicly said that Chinese soldiers didn’t enter the Indian territory. In other words, Indian side admitted (crossing) into Chinese territory.”
The resolution of the problem is very “simple”, he said: “Indian troops have to go out.”
In New Delhi, sources said there is no change in India’s position as far as the resolution of the standoff is concerned. The government’s official position remains the same as enunciated in the external affairs ministry’s statement issued on June 30, the sources said.
The external affairs ministry had said in that statement that India had acted in coordination with the Bhutan government to oppose the construction of a road by Chinese troops in Donglang area, which is claimed by Thimphu. It had also said the construction activity represented a “significant change of status quo with serious security implications for India”.
New Delhi had also pointed out that it had reached an agreement with Beijing in 2012 that the boundary at the tri-junction of India, Bhutan and China would be finalised in consultation with Thimphu.
Wang’s statement came days before India’s National Security Advisor AK Doval visits Beijing for a BRICS security summit.
China has repeatedly said that the precondition for talks to resolve the issue is the withdrawal of Indian troops to its side of the border.
A “meaningful dialogue” between Doval and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi on the Donglang standoff is unlikely though the two could meet for bilateral talks during the NSA’s visit to Beijing, China indicated on Monday.
“The crux now is Indian border troops illegally stayed on China’s territory. Once again we urge India to pull back to the Indian side of the boundary. I want to stress that this is the precondition for any meaningful talks between the two sides,” foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang had said.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) too made a strong statement on the standoff on Monday.
“The willingness and resolve of China to defend its sovereignty is indomitable and we will safeguard our sovereignty whatever the cost,” defence ministry spokesman Col Wu Qian had said.
The row between the border troops of the two sides began on June 16, when India troops halted the road construction by Chinese troops. Though claimed by Bhutan, the area is under China’s control and the two countries do not have diplomatic ties.