With no end in sight to the standoff in the Sikkim sector, China on Saturday said there is “no room” for negotiations to resolve the military face-off and the only solution is the withdrawal of Indian troops from the Donglang or Doklam region.
India will face “embarrassment” if it does not withdraw its border troops to its own side and the situation could get “worse”, the official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on Saturday night.
“China has made it clear that there is no room for negotiations on this incident, and India must withdraw its border-crossing troops from Doklam. For China, border line is the bottom line,” the commentary said.
The commentary sought to add yet another dimension to the face-off by bringing in the Ladakh region and linking it to Pakistan, China’s “iron brother” ally.
“India should not regard the existing situation as the same as or even similar to the previous two standoffs in 2013 and 2014 near Ladakh, a disputed area between China, Pakistan and India in southeastern Kashmir. Diplomatic efforts led the troop’s frictions there to a well-arranged end. But this time it is a totally different case,” it added.
It is rare for China to call Ladakh a “disputed” region and make a reference to Kashmir.
This is the first time that China has clearly articulated – through one of its primary official channels – that there is no room for parleys to resolve the weeks-long impasse in Donglang, which is under China’s control but claimed by Bhutan.
Until now, the foreign ministry had listed the withdrawal of Indian troops hinted as a precondition for resolving the face-off but had hinted there is an ongoing effort to end it through diplomatic negotiations.
Xinhua is an organ of the Chinese government and is affiliated to the State Council, the Communist country’s cabinet.
Commentaries published by Xinhua and the People’s Daily, the Communist Party of China (CPC) mouthpiece, are taken to be a reflection of the thoughts of the government and the all-powerful CPC.
“India has repeatedly ignored China’s call for pulling its border-crossing troops from Doklam area back to its own territory. However, turning a deaf ear to China will but worsen the month-long standoff and put itself further into embarrassment,” the commentary said.
It added that India had “lied” to the world by saying it dispatched troops to Donglang to help its ally Bhutan, whereas “apparently” Thimphu had extended no invitation to New Delhi to intervene.
“New Delhi claimed encroachment of its own territory by China before saying it sent troops to ’protect’ its ‘ally’ Bhutan, a sovereign state which has apparently so far made no such an invitation for the sake of that boundary area,” it said.
Bhutan and China don’t have diplomatic ties but have held 24 rounds of talks to resolve a boundary dispute.
The commentary, however, described foreign secretary S Jaishankar’s remarks during a recent speech in Singapore as a “positive” sign.
“As an old Chinese saying goes, peace is most precious. It has been noticed that Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar recently has made positive remarks in Singapore, saying that ‘India and China should not let differences become disputes’,” it said.
“What China would like to see more are corresponding actions taken by India.
“China has a will to solve the problem peacefully by diplomatic means, and China also cherishes the peace and serenity in the border areas, but the precondition is that the trespassers of India must withdraw unconditionally.”
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