India has ‘hidden agenda’, no one should interfere in our territory, says China
The Chinese foreign ministry remarks came amidst a standoff between Indian and Chinese troops along the frontier in Sikkim.Updated: Jul 05, 2017 11:33 IST
China on Wednesday virtually accused India of having a “hidden agenda” as it indicated that Indian troops had stopped PLA soldiers from building a road in Donglang, a region at the centre of a long-standing dispute with Bhutan.
The foreign ministry accused Indian troops of trespassing into Chinese territory and said the alleged incursion was “totally different” from previous incidents. Keeping up its aggressive posturing on the stand-off, the ministry said the “liability” for resuming the suspended Kailash Mansarovar Yatra lay with India, which should correct its “errors”.
The remarks by foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang at a news briefing added another twist to the face-off between Indian and Chinese troops. In the Chinese version of events, Indian soldiers crossed the border and went into Donglang.
Donglang, or Doklam, is under Chinese control and lies within the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) but is claimed by Bhutan. The area is located at the narrow and strategic tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan, a short distance from Nathu La pass.
“The region is part of China and is indisputable. It belongs to China from ancient times and it doesn’t belong to Bhutan. China’s construction is a legitimate activity,” spokesperson Lu said, reacting to a report in Hindustan Times that Bhutan could be key to the military stand-off.
Lu said if a “third party” tried to interfere in the matter “out of a hidden agenda”, it was disrespectful to Bhutan. He also dropped enough hints that Indian troops had obstructed the construction of the road because of the close strategic and diplomatic ties between Thimphu and New Delhi.
“If India wants to raise (the Donglang dispute), I would say that it doesn’t belong to India and neither does it belong to Bhutan. We have complete legal basis for this,” Lu said.
“Even if the boundary (with Bhutan) is not delimited, no third party should interfere and make irresponsible comments or actions,” he added. “Only Indian side can judge if they are interfering with the internal affairs of Bhutan.”
India and Bhutan have close relations, especially in foreign policy and security, while Thimpu and Beijing are yet to establish a diplomatic relationship. Donglang is part of a border dispute that has remained unresolved despite 24 rounds of negotiations between China and Bhutan.
Following a reported scuffle between Indian and Chinese troops near Doka La area in the first week of June, Beijing suspended the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra via Nathu La. Lu didn’t give any indication that China would relent and allow the pilgrimage to resume through this route.
“For a long time in the interest of India-China relations, China provided great conveniences to Indian pilgrims. Based on consensus between the two countries’ leaders, and on the fact that the Sikkim sector’s boundary is delimited and recognised by the two countries, the Chinese side opened Nathu La pass for Indian pilgrims in 2015. For two years it worked well and…this year also the Chinese authorities had prepared for the reception of Indian pilgrims and informed the Indian side about it,” he said.
“Now the suspension of the same is an emergency response to the situation there. I want to stress that the resumption of pilgrims’ passage requires necessary atmosphere and conditions. So the liability of the same totally lies on Indian side and when it will be reopened depends on when or whether the Indian side will correct its errors.”
China’s misgivings about India’s role in Bhutan were echoed to HT by an expert, Hu Shisheng, director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asia and Oceania Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
“So, one thing is that Bhutan asking India to take the responsibility for patrolling on the border.
We know that Bhutan is under the protection of India,” Hu said on Tuesday when asked about the importance of Donglang in the military stand-off.