Doklam is part of China, learn lessons from standoff: PLA to India

Troops from India and China were locked in a 73-day standoff in Doklam during June-August last year after Indian forces stopped the construction of a road by the Chinese Army in the disputed area.

world Updated: Jan 26, 2018 09:49 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
India,China,Doklam
This file photo taken on July 10, 2008 shows a Chinese soldier (L) gesturing next to an Indian soldier at the Nathu La border crossing between India and China in India's northeastern Sikkim state. (AFP)

The Chinese military on Thursday criticised the Indian Army chief’s remarks referring to Doklam as disputed territory and warned India to learn “lessons” from last year’s standoff near the Sikkim border so that similar incidents do not occur in future.

In its first response to Gen Bipin Rawat’s remarks on the standoff, the People’s Liberation Army contended Doklam or Donglang is part of China. The PLA also said Rawat’s comments showed Indian troops had illegally crossed into Donglang.

The 73-day standoff had pitted border troops from the two countries against each other from June to August-end. It ended when both sides agreed to pull back their forces from the area that is under Chinese control but claimed by Bhutan.

“I have noticed many of the Indian journalists’ remarks (on Rawat’s comments). Donglang is part of China and the remarks of the Indian side also shows the illegal border crossing of the Indian troops is clear in fact and nature,” Senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesperson for the PLA and the defence ministry, told a conference.

“We hope the Indian side will draw lessons from the incident to avoid similar incidents (being) repeated in the future,” he said.

The PLA reacted to Rawat’s comments earlier this month while responding to a question from the Chinese media.

“The PLA of China has occupied the area in the west of Torsa nullah called northern Doklam. At the actual spot, the two sides have disengaged. The tents remain. The observation posts remain. This is a territory disputed between Bhutan and China,” Rawat had said on January 12 on the eve of Army Day.

“The issue was that we had actually stepped into territory that wasn’t ours. And when you step into a territory which is not yours, the ministry of external affairs comes in. It is not that you have stepped into your territory, but into territory which either belonged to China or to Bhutan. It didn’t belong to us,” he had said.

Rawat had suggested India needs to shift focus from its border with Pakistan to the Chinese frontier. He also suggested that India needs to take along its other neighbours.

The PLA spokesperson referred to this remark and said: “Apart from this, I also want to emphasise that countries should be treated regardless of (their) size. The concept of the sphere of influence is a demonstration of the Cold War mentality which the Chinese side is always opposed to.”

Earlier, the foreign ministry had criticised Rawat’s remarks, describing them as “unconstructive”.

“Last year, India-China relations have witnessed some twists and turns,” foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said. “The dialogue and consultation (between the leaders of the two countries) have shown sound momentum of improvement and development.

“Under such background, the unconstructive remarks by the Indian senior official not only go against the consensus reached by the two heads of state but also do not conform to the efforts made by the two sides to improve and develop bilateral relations,” Lu said, adding the remarks cannot help to preserve tranquillity and peace at the border.

First Published: Jan 25, 2018 17:23 IST