New Delhi: India has told China that its attempt to construct of a road in Doklam in the Sikkim sector will “represent a significant change of status quo with security implications for India”. In a statement, the foreign ministry said New Delhi is deeply concerned at recent Chinese actions and sought to set facts straight after multiple statements by the Chinese government, which has accused Indian troops of crossing the border and entering Chinese territory.
The statement spells out for the first time why Indian soldiers, along with their Bhutanese counterparts, are deployed in Doklam, a disputed area close to the tri-junction between India, China and Bhutan. China and Bhutan have engaged in a long territorial dispute over Doklam. The area is close to the Nathu La pass, through which China has blocked this year’s Kailash Mansarovar yatra — the annual pilgrimage to the lake which is considered holy — over the border tension.
The foreign ministry said on June 16, China’s People Liberation Army or PLA “entered the Doklam area and attempted to construct a road. It is our understanding that a Royal Bhutan Army patrol attempted to dissuade them from this unilateral activity. The Ambassador of the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB) has publicly stated that it lodged a protest with the Chinese Government through their Embassy in New Delhi on 20 June.”
India pointed out that it works in close consultation Bhutan, which does not have diplomatic relations with China. Bhutan believes the Chinese road construction activity is illegal.
India has based its decision to resist the Chinese attempts at road construction on an agreement that New Delhi had reached with Beijing in 2012 on the boundary in the Sikkim sector.
“The Indian side has underlined that the two Governments had in 2012 reached agreement that the tri-junction boundary points between India, China and third countries will be finalized in consultation with the concerned countries. Any attempt, therefore, to unilaterally determine tri-junction points is in violation of this understanding,” today’s statement said.
It said it is essential that “all parties concerned display utmost restraint and abide by their respective bilateral understandings not to change the status quo unilaterally. It is also important that the consensus reached between India and China through the Special Representatives process is scrupulously respected by both sides.”
It said India has consistently taken a positive approach to the settlement of its own boundary with China, along with the associated issue of the tri-junctions. The ministry also said it “cherishes peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas,” which, it said, has not come easily. India, it said, is committed to working with China to find peaceful resolution of all issues in the border areas through dialogue.
“Diplomatic channels are unimpeded between India and China for talks on the standoff in Sikkim,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang has said today, seeking “meaningful dialogue” with India over the border row. He again asked India to withdraw its troops from Doklam, insisting that Beijing has “indisputable sovereignty” over the area.
He refuted Bhutan’s allegation that China has violated agreements by constructing a road inside its territory.
Of the 3,488-km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section is in Sikkim.