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Doka La rift: China's 'slap' jibe on India over road construction in Ladakh could make Modi's BRICS visit untenable

China on Thursday said India has "slapped its own face" by deciding to build a road near Pangong Lake in Ladakh and it would only worsen the Doka La dispute. Beijing said the western sector of the boundary where India plans to build a road is not "delimited". It warned that the move was not "conducive" to peace in the region.

This criticism comes days before the BRICS summit which will be held in China in September. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be travelling to China for the summit. Observers have said that China's aggressive stance could be a strategy to make Modi's visit to China politically untenable, The Times of India reported.

India's home ministry has reportedly approved the building of a road from Marsimik La to Hot Spring in Ladakh. Marsimik La is about 20 km from Pangong Lake, where Indian and Chinese troops scuffled last week.

According to Hindustan Times, the home ministry on Tuesday had cleared the road-building project and the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) had taken over the project. The BRO has started "mobilisation" for the project which is part of the proposed India-China Border Road-I.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

MHA officials have said that this road was initially initially proposed by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, which guards the India-China border, reported The Indian Express.

This mobilisation followed the defence ministry decision on Monday to delegate more administrative and financial powers to the BRO for the speedy completion of the projects. This was done to prevent delays in the construction of strategic roads.

India and China have a dispute over the Line of Actual Control in the western sector of Ladakh.

"It seems that the Indian side is slapping its own face," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said reacting to the development. "The Indian side is closely following China's road building, but India's action itself has proven that the Indian side says something and does another," she added.

"Its words are complete contradictions to its deeds on the border issues," she said. "Now, the current road construction in that area by the Indian side is not conducive to peace and stability in that area. It will not help with settlement of the current situation," Hua said referring to the Doka La crisis.

"I should stress that the western section of the China-India boundary has not been delimited and the two sides have agreed to uphold peace and tranquillity before the disputes are settled," Hua said.

China on Thursday issued a safety advisory to its citizens living in India. This is the second such notice amid the border row dispute between the two countries. The advisory has asked them to be alert and its validity is till 31 December. The last one-month advisory was issued on 8 July.

Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a standoff at Doka Lain the Sikkim section for the past three months, which has led to escalation in bilateral tensions.

The dispute began when India stalled the construction of a Chinese road in Doka La, which lies in the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan. Bhutan has also protested China's road building activity in its territory. New Delhi perceives the Chinese road in Doka La a threat as the region is very close to its Siliguri corridor which connects India's northeast with rest of the country.

The 3,488 km de facto India-China border is divided into three sectors: west, middle and east.

With inputs from IANS

Updated Date: Aug 25, 2017 13:26 PM

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