Amid the continuing standoff, China on Monday said the “trespassing” of Indian troops in Doklam was a “betrayal” of a treaty signed in 1890, and India had used Bhutan as an “excuse” to violate the international border between the two countries. Beijing demanded the immediate withdrawal of Indian troops, and quoted letters between Indian and Chinese leaders in 1959 to underscore the boundary set between the two countries in the Sikkim region. “In order to cover up the illegal entry by Indian troops into the Chinese territory, Indian side wants to infringe upon Bhutan’s sovereignty and they try to confuse right from wrong. This is futile. We have no objection to normal bilateral relations between India and Bhutan but are firmly opposed to the Indian side infringing on Chinese territory using Bhutan as an excuse,” said Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesperson Geng Shuang.
The standoff began mid-June when Indian troops halted the construction of a road in the strategic Doklam region, which China refers to as Donglang. Bhutan has also lodged protests over the construction. Also Read: No bulldozers used by China for destroying bunkers, says Indian Army
Geng also dismissed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s remarks that India was not the same as it was in 1962. “He was right. India in 2017 is indeed different from India in 1962, just as China in 2017 is different from that of China in 1962… China will take all necessary measures to safeguard its territorial sovereignty,” he said.
Jaitley was responding to a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Defence that India should learn from “historical lessons”, referring to the 1962 war. Also Read: China dismisses Arun Jaitley’s remarks over 1962 conflict
Two days after India disputed the 1890 treaty that China has consistently referred to since the standoff began, the MFA quoted letters between India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and China’s first Premier Zhou Enlai — one, dated March 22, 1959, in which Nehru said that “the border between India’s Protectorate Sikkim and China’s Tibet is determined by the 1890 Sino-British Treaty”, and another, dated September 26, in which Nehru made it clear that “the Treaty of 1890 establishedthe boundary between Sikkim and Tibet.”
“The action taken by India is undoubtedly a betrayal of the 1890 treaty and a betrayal of the consistent position held by successive Indian governments. We require India to respect the treaty and pull back the border troops immediately,” Geng said. “The India-China boundary in the Sikkim section is well demarcated.”
Asked if there was a possibility of a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G20 Summit in Hamburg in Germany this week, Geng said he has “no information at the moment” about the arrangements for bilateral meetings between Xi and leaders of other countries. He, however, said the line for diplomatic communication between India and China is “open and smooth”.
India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, who is the Special Representative for the India-China border talks, is scheduled to visit Beijing on July 26 to attend the meeting of NSAs from BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. He is expected to discuss the issue with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi.
Meanwhile, an article in the state-run Global Times read, “There could be a chance of war if the recent conflict between China and India is not handled properly, observers said, noting that China will resolutely defend its territory and safeguard the border.”