Doklam crisis begins winding down as both sides reduce troops

Marie Harrington
August 3, 2017

China's fact sheet and India's response to it came on a day when it emerged that a meeting between Ajit Doval of India and Yang Jiechi of China on the border dispute last week did not yield any breakthrough on the Doklam standoff in Sikkim sector.

Citing the 1890 border agreement between China and Britain, the ministry said that India's actions, besides being a major encroachment of Chinese territory, posed a challenge to peace and stability in the region and normal worldwide border.

"The Chinese side urges the Indian government to keep in mind the larger interest of bilateral relations and the well-being of the two peoples". It proposed direct talks with Bhutan on the issue. It added that the border area between China and Bhutan has always enjoyed peace and tranquility due to the joint efforts of both sides.

The statement also said India has no right to interfere as the border issue is between China and Bhutan.

India has said Beijing's action to "unilaterally determine tri-junction points" violated a 2012 India-China pact which says the boundary would be decided by consulting all the concerned parties.

Beijing, which earlier said it won't talk to New Delhi until the Indian troops leave, also hinted that the two sides were in touch to resolve the dragging dispute on the Sikkim section of the border.

The spokesperson said on June 18, the Indian border troops illegally crossed the Sikkim Sector of the China-India boundary and entered into the Chinese territory.

In its 15-page document, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the number of Indian soldiers has decreased from 270 to 40 after the start of this deadlock in Dokalam.

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While border skirmishes between the two are a regular feature, the current standoff, the longest since the 1962 war, began on June 16 when Indian troops attempted to prevent the Chinese from building a border road through the plateau Doklam.

Commenting on the military stand-off at Doklam plateau, India said its stance remains the same as articulated in the press release issued on June 30, almost a fortnight after the controversy erupted near Sikkim border.

It also said its troops were in the area at the request of Bhutan. According to the document, China has no problem with Bhutan and the two sides are discussing the border issue and India does not have to worry about it.

The fact sheet said the standoff occurred in an area where there is a clear and delimited boundary. It asserted that "China will take all necessary measures to safeguard its legitimate and lawful rights and interests".

The paper also repeated Beijing's contention that the Indian move challenged the sovereignty of Bhutan, which is guided by India in foreign policy.

The ministry reiterated that the border had been agreed to in 1890 by the governments of China and Britain, India's colonial ruler until 1947, and later with the Indian government.

However, New Delhi has cited a statement by Bhutan's foreign ministry underscoring that the construction of the road "inside Bhutanese territory" is a direct violation of the 1988 and 1998 agreements between Bhutan and China.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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