Notwithstanding the Doklam standoff, Chinese military analysts say that India and China should sign a new boundary convention in the Sikkim sector to replace the 1890 Great Britain-China agreement and make it more contemporary.
“For China early harvest means, we want to have a new agreement with India, because the 1890 convention was signed between Great Britain and China,” Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhou, Director at the Centre on China-America Defence Relations of the Academy of Military Science, told an Indian media delegation here yesterday.
“At that time, it was not the People’s Republic of China, (PRC). India became independent in 1947. It is better we change the signatures of the convention, that is what I mean early harvest,” he said.
“It is very essential because there are territorial disputes in the eastern, central and western sectors of the India-China border. Only in the Sikkim section we have the fixed border. So, we want to start from the easiest, that is what we call early harvest,” he added.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry too in its August 2 fact-sheet on Doklam standoff referred to Beijing’s expectations of an “early harvest” in the Sikkim sector.
“The Chinese and Indian sides have been in discussion on making the boundary in the Sikkim Sector an ‘early harvest’ in the settlement of the entire boundary question during the meetings between the Special Representatives on the China-India Boundary Question,” it had said, referring to the 1890 convention.
“The boundary in the Sikkim sector has long been delimited by the 1890 Convention, which was signed between then China and Great Britain. China and India ought to sign a new boundary convention in their own names to replace the 1890 Convention. This, however, in no way alters the nature of the boundary in the Sikkim sector as having already been delimited,” it had said.
On the Sikkim part of the boundary, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in its June 30 statement on the Doklam standoff had said, “Where the boundary in the Sikkim sector is concerned, India and China had reached an understanding also in 2012 reconfirming their mutual agreement on the ‘basis of the alignment’. Further discussions regarding finalisation of the boundary have been taking place under the Special Representatives framework.”
Therefore “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,” the MEA had said.
Of the 3,488-km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim.
India and China have been locked in a face-off in the Doklam area of the Sikkim sector for the last 50 days after Indian troops stopped the Chinese People’s Liberation Army from building a road in the area.
China claimed that it was constructing the road within its territory and has been demanding immediate pull-out of the Indian troops from Doklam. Bhutan says Doklam belongs to it but China claims sovereignty over the area. China also claims that Thimphu has no dispute with Beijing over Doklam.