As the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops continues in the Doklam area of Sikkim sector for the seventh straight week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry told state-run Global Times that at least ’53 people and a bulldozer from the Indian side remain in Chinese territory as of Monday’. In a statement to the state-run publication, the ministry said: “India should withdraw its troops and equipment. Regardless of how many Indian troops have trespassed into and stayed in Chinese territory, they have gravely infringed on China’s sovereignty.”
Nearly seven weeks into the standoff at Doklam, the Chinese presence in the vicinity at the trijunction with Bhutan has only increased. The Indian Express has learnt that at a distance of around one kilometre from Dolam plateau, north of Doka La post, the Chinese have pitched around 80 tents for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers. The number of Chinese troops in the vicinity is estimated to be less than 800. Besides, 300 soldiers are also deployed at the standoff site, facing at least 350 Indian soldiers who have pitched tents in the area. Also Read: China steps up troop presence at Doklam seven weeks into standoff
Meanwhile, China Daily, in one of its most scathing editorials on Wednesday, warned that ‘the countdown to a clash between the two forces has begun’. The editorial titled ‘New Delhi should come to its senses while it has time’, suggested that the window to peacefully resolve the standoff in Doklam is closing. “The countdown to a clash between the two forces has begun, and the clock is ticking away the time to what seems to be an inevitable conclusion.”
Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a stand-off in the Dokalam area of the Sikkim sector for seven weeks now after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the disputed area. China claimed that they were constructing the road within their territory and has been demanding immediate pull-out of the Indian troops from the disputed Dokalam plateau. New Delhi has expressed concern over the road building, apprehending that it may allow Chinese troops to cut India’s access to its northeastern states. Also Read: Nepal won’t take any sides in India-China standoff: Deputy PM Krishna Bahadur Mahara
India has conveyed to the Chinese government that the road construction would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for it. Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region.
Of the 3,488-km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim.