After Modi-Xi meet, Chinese media hits out at India over Sikkim standoff

The Xinhua commentary was released soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping exchanged greetings on the sidelines of an informal meeting of BRICS leaders.

world Updated: Jul 16, 2017 21:13 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Sikkim standoff,Doklam,Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Xinhua claimed that according to the Convention between Great Britain and China Relating to Sikkim and Tibet (1890), Doklam “undoubtedly” belongs to China.(Reuters File)

Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping exchanged greetings at an informal meeting of BRICS leaders in Hamburg, China’s state-run media again said Indian troops should immediately withdraw from the Donglang region as a precondition for dialogue.

The interaction between Modi and Xi, who had a “conversation on a range of issues”, raised hopes of a possible end to the three-week-old standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in the Sikkim sector.

However, a commentary by state-run Xinhua news agency headlined “Immediate withdrawal is only wise move for India” said India should pull back its “trespassing troops” as a “precondition for any meaningful dialogue” between the two sides.

The commentary reinforced China’s position that a resolution of the standoff is possible only if India orders its troops to withdraw.

The standoff began on July 16 after Indian troops opposed the construction of a road by the Chinese army at Donglang or Doklam, which is claimed by Bhutan. India has said its troops were acting in coordination with the Bhutan government and both countries have asked China to maintain status quo.

“India has tried to justify its incursion in the name of protecting Bhutan, arguing that Doklam is Bhutanese territory,” the commentary said. It referred to a 1890 convention between Britain and China to contend that Doklam “belongs to China”.

This convention was inherited by India and confirmed by successive governments of the “former British colony”, it added.

India’s argument that the Chinese construction represents a “significant change of status quo with serious security implications “ is “unconvincing”, the commentary said.

“By creating disputes in Doklam, India seeks to obstruct border negotiations between China and Bhutan, and follow its own ulterior motives in the area”, it said.

“Moreover, India has no right to interfere in China-Bhutan boundary issues, nor is it entitled to make territorial claims on behalf of Bhutan.”

The commentary accused India of breaking the status quo by “trespassing onto Chinese soil”.

The commentary ended with a word of advice: “It is clear that if the ‘Chinese Dragon’ and the ‘Indian Elephant’ co-exist harmoniously and achieve peaceful, cooperative development, it will benefit not only their combined 2.7 billion people, but also those living beyond their borders.

“Otherwise, a spiral of bilateral rivalry would definitely result in a slow down in their growth.”

First Published: Jul 07, 2017 20:16 IST