Doklam standoff put ’severe pressure’ on ties, India must learn lesson: China

Updated on Dec 13, 2017 08:06 AM IST

The Chinese ministry released the statement with foreign minister Wang Yi’s remarks on Tuesday morning, hours after he left New Delhi following his official engagements.

China's foreign minister Wang Yi shakes hands with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on December 11, 2017.(AFP Photo)
China's foreign minister Wang Yi shakes hands with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on December 11, 2017.(AFP Photo)
Hindustan Times, Beijing | BySutirtho Patranobis, Beijing

The Doklam standoff put “severe pressure” on bilateral relations and “lessons should be learnt” from the episode so that such incidents are not repeated, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj, according to a statement issued by the Chinese foreign ministry on Tuesday.

The external affairs ministry did not comment on the unusually blunt remarks attributed to Wang, who had travelled to New Delhi for a trilateral meeting with Swaraj and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

Wang brought up the 73-day face-off between Indian and Chinese troops near the Sikkim border during a bilateral meeting with Swaraj in New Delhi on Monday, the Chinese statement said.

The Chinese side did not offer an official statement immediately after Monday’s meeting. Swaraj had said at a press interaction that she and Wang had spoken about strengthening mutual trust to develop better understanding. India did not issue an official statement on the meeting.

In the statement in Mandarin, issued hours after Wang left India at about 3 am on Tuesday, he was quoted as saying that bilateral ties during 2017 were “not very satisfactory”.

Wang referred to what he described as trespassing by Indian troops in the Donglang (Doklam) sector near the Sikkim border in June, and said the incident had strained bilateral ties.

“The viciousness caused by the cross-border infiltration of the Indian border guards put bilateral relations under severe pressure. The matter was finally settled peacefully through diplomatic means, reflecting the maturing of bilateral relations,” he said.

He further said that India-China ties had “maintained their momentum of development as a whole” in 2017, adding: “Both sides have made efforts in this regard. But they (the efforts) were not very satisfactory. However, lessons should be learned and (such incidents) should be avoided again,” he said.

The Doklam standoff was resolved in late August, when the two sides agreed to withdraw their troops from the area under Chinese control but claimed by Bhutan, and Beijing indicated it had halted work on a road that triggered the row.

The statement quoted Wang as saying that bilateral ties were in a “crucial period” and it was very important for the two countries to cultivate mutual trust. “With mutual trust, the specific problems are expected to be resolved on the basis of mutual understanding and mutual accommodation,” he said.

“Without mutual trust, individual problems will continue to overflow and erode the overall situation of bilateral relations… To this end, both sides should strengthen strategic communication at all levels, restore the established dialogue mechanism, deepen pragmatic cooperation in various fields, and at the same time control the existing differences and safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” he said.

The statement also quoted Swaraj as saying the standoff was “resolved” through diplomatic means and “fully demonstrated the political wisdom of both sides”. It quoted her as saying that India always holds that “the common ground between India and China is far greater than their differences”.

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