Now China’s Foreign Minister steps in: India must pull back from Doklam

India-China standoff in Sikkim: Ajit Doval’s scheduled visit has evoked a mixed response from state-run media in China. While Global Times dubbed Doval a “main schemer” of the current standoff, the government-run China Daily suggested India and China should explore ways to avoid confrontation and settle the issue peacefully.

Written by Shubhajit Roy , Apurva | New Delhi/beijing | Updated: July 26, 2017 9:46 am
Doklam standoff, India, China, Sushma Swaraj, Ajit Doval, Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wang Yi, India news, Indian Express India-China Sikkim standoff: The Sikkim section has a special historical background and this is the only defined boundary between China and India, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang

A day before National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval leaves for Beijing to attend the BRICS NSAs’ meeting on July 27-28, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stepped into the border standoff at Doklam, saying that India should “conscientiously withdraw” its troops. Though Doval’s counterpart, Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi, outranks Wang in China’s official establishment, the Foreign Minister’s remarks is being seen in New Delhi as an “escalation in messaging”.

This comes a day after the Chinese Defence Ministry ratcheted up the rhetoric as it urged India to “abandon impractical illusions” and warned that it would step up troop deployment and training at the India-China border if Indian troops were not withdrawn immediately.

Interestingly, Wang’s comments were posted in Mandarin on the Chinese language website of China’s Foreign Ministry, and not on the English language website.

“The rights and wrongs are very clear and even senior Indian officials have openly stated that Chinese troops did not step into Indian territory,” Wang said in Bangkok, commenting for the first time on the standoff at the trijunction point, where Indian troops have been facing off with People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops for over a month now.

“To make it brief, India has admitted that they have entered Chinese territory. The solution to this issue is very simple: conscientiously withdraw,” he said in a brief quote posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website on Tuesday.

Read: Two perspectives on Doklam standoff. Click here.

Last week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had proposed that the two sides should withdraw their armies and engage in a conversation. Ruling out unilateral withdrawal by Indian troops, Swaraj — while answering questions in Rajya Sabha last Thursday — had said, “If China unilaterally changes the status quo of the trijunction point, then that is a direct challenge to our security. Their demand is that we should withdraw our troops from there. We want that, if we are having a conversation, if we want to have talks, then both should withdraw their armies. From our side, there is no unreasonable demand.”

That was the first time the government publicly articulated its demand for mutual withdrawal.

Doval, who is likely to leave for Beijing on Wednesday, will meet Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi. Both sides have not ruled out the possibility of a bilateral meeting so far, although there has been no public announcement of a scheduled meeting.

The Indian side, which has maintained that New Delhi is committed to working with Beijing to find a peaceful resolution through dialogue, is willing to have a conversation — if China wants. Sources said the attempt will be to resolve the situation through bilateral talks, and not let the issue cast a shadow on the upcoming BRICS summit.

Doval’s scheduled visit has evoked a mixed response from state-run media in China. While the Communist Party of China-controlled Global Times dubbed Doval a “main schemer” of the current standoff, the government-run China Daily suggested India and China should explore ways to avoid confrontation and settle the issue peacefully.

In a related development, China has taken objection to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s comments that this is a “long-term dispute” and territorial disputes should be resolved peacefully. The Chinese Foreign Ministry is learnt to have conveyed its position to the Australian government through diplomatic channels.

Responding to questions, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Lu Kang, told the media in Beijing on Monday: “I have noted relevant reports made by the Indian press. First of all, I want to point out that what Ms. Bishop said about peacefully resolving territorial disputes as a principle is true, but I must add that what she said is not applicable to what is happening in Donglang, because there is no territorial dispute there. The Sikkim section of the China-India boundary is long-defined, a fact recognised and maintained by the two sides for 127 years without any dispute. The nature of this incident is that Indian border troops illegally crossed the already delimited Sikkim section of the China-India boundary into Chinese territory, which is essentially different from the past frictions between the two sides in sections that are yet to be delimited.

“China wants peace and stability in the China-India border areas, but make no mistake, that does not mean we will compromise in any way on the issue of territorial sovereignty. The responsibility for this incident is solely on India’s side. We once again urge India to get a clear picture of the situation and take measures as soon as possible to avoid further escalating the situation.”

Meanwhile, following India’s recent announcement on launching an anti-dumping investigation over photovoltaic cells and units imported from China, Taiwan and Malaysia, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said on Tuesday that India should avoid abusing trade remedy measures.

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  1. V
    V M Premal
    Jul 27, 2017 at 12:25 pm
    China constructing a road in Doklam in Bhutan is a security threat to India. Do you think that Indian troops should pullback and give way to China to capture other country's territory. Everybody knows the Chinese aggressiveness on territory. Everybody knows demerits of war, but, sometimes it is necessary to protect our country from outside threats. I think every citizen of India must get military training serve forces for two years. Jai Hind.
    Reply
    1. 佰春蔺
      Aug 3, 2017 at 8:08 am
      This is not an excuse for India to encroach China's territory. If India thinks constructing a road is a threat, India also could construct a road on India side. Again, this is not an excuse.
      Reply
    2. M
      Manohar Chaturvedi
      Jul 27, 2017 at 12:03 am
      Communist China is weak though she has strong support from the Jews. Most modern weapons in China have been obtained via Israel based on U.S. technology. China also has the Most-Favored-Nation-Trade-Status from the USA no enemy in the past or present will get this. This tells something. India has a military edge over China and should continue to arm herself and stay alert. Most experts agree that if a war occurred it shall be the Chinese territory. Though India will surely avoid getting into a war. Pakistan is too small to comment on she has hardly any resources or industry but as a proxy state has strong backing.
      Reply
      1. K
        K Patel
        Jul 26, 2017 at 3:34 pm
        The bilateral relations between India and Myanmar have gradually shifted over the past two decades. A major change began with the introduction of India’s “Look East” policy in 1991, triggering a shift from support of the then pro-democracy movement to the pro-military government. By establishing full diplomatic ties with Myanmar, India, as a regional power, is attempting to maximize its national and security interests, and to counterbalance the strategic influence of China in the region. Myanmar, the only Southeast Asian country which shares a 1,000-mile-long border with India, serves as its gateway to the other 10-member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Though the bilateral relations have been largely peaceful and mutually beneficial, recent border disputes in the state of Manipur in Northeast India have caused concern among the local communities, as well as the state and central government officials. As in many other border dispute
        Reply
        1. K
          K Patel
          Jul 26, 2017 at 3:08 pm
          I think peacefully solution is good for both Indian and Chinese. A war between two big countries means millions of people may be dead. For India, most of the soldiers are from poor family. It's a disaster for the family that if the soldier sacrifice in the war. India should learn to american that zero casualty is important and cherish the lives of the soldiers. The life of one soldier may looks like a life of ant to the country but it's the most important thing to a family. Don't say you are brave enough to face death. If the death is going to be you, do you still want to start the war? Withdraw and keep peacefully!
          Reply
          1. A
            AlsoIndian
            Jul 26, 2017 at 12:57 pm
            The world knows that Doklam is a disputed territory claimed by both Bhutan and China - although India supports Bhutan's claim. It is the same way as Kashmir is considered by the WORLD - at large - as a disputed territory (even if as an Indian I considered Kashmir as integrated part of India). It is not about patriotism or nationalism but logic. / Imagine China sending troops to POK? How will we feel about it?? (Unfortunately, we don't want to look at this side of the picture) Therefore, India's presence in Doklam as a support for Bhutan is in itself a challenge to China and we opened the can of worms here. Our Government may be trying to cover up giving excuses. Unfortunately, we are nation without a full time Minister of Defence Minister for more than 3 years and our media and officials reveals that we are short of ammunition (THESE ARE ANTI-NATIONAL REVEALATIONS OR ACTIONS) but no Bhakt will agree to this. The whole scenario is one of GREATEST FAILURE OF MODI ADMIN.
            Reply
            1. P
              PK
              Jul 26, 2017 at 1:58 pm
              Yeh kiski bhasha me bol rahen hain aap?
              Reply
            2. K
              Kamal Pasha
              Jul 26, 2017 at 12:31 pm
              Where are India's friends whom Modi huggs on all his foreign trips. US is not a true friend of India but only want India to fight their war with China. Why Trump does not issue H-1B visas to Indians who voted him during American elections and celebted his birthday throughout India. US still need and will always need Pakistan in this region and Indians should keep this in their minds. Feel sorry for Modi and India
              Reply
              1. S
                Sam
                Jul 26, 2017 at 10:23 pm
                our country USA takes so many indians each year andits flooded sorry to say the second point you indians got your self in this mess with china
                Reply
              2. A
                A. M.
                Jul 26, 2017 at 12:28 pm
                People in the northeastern states should start learning mandarin for better future of their children. Mandarin schools anyone ??
                Reply
                1. A
                  AlsoIndian
                  Jul 26, 2017 at 1:18 pm
                  Our government talks big but we are failing DIPLOMACY with Nepal and our own North East at large. War and murder is not a solution to our problems. With the BJP is power, if the mentality is about installing tanks in the Universities, are we trying to turn India into to a military run or a militant state as per the Hindutva dreams. No doubt Congress was BAD, but the militant Hindutva seems to be the worst for the nation. It is a mindset of hatred that they have started breeding within the nation, within the community, and like it or not, it will extended all over. The mindset which has been bred for hatred is unchangeable - be it militant Islam or militant Hindutva.
                  Reply
                2. S
                  sangos
                  Jul 26, 2017 at 12:26 pm
                  cinis gov caught stealing land and bullying tiny Bhutan. Now they know how punishment given.
                  Reply
                  1. S
                    Sam
                    Jul 26, 2017 at 10:29 pm
                    ok indian point taken you want war / your war talk says it all
                    Reply
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