Doka La standoff ends? China downplays agreement to withdraw troops in region, silent on plans to build road

Beijing: Downplaying India's announcement of a mutual agreement to disengage in Doka La, China claimed its soldiers continued to patrol the area and said India had withdrawn its troops on Monday.

China also remained silent on its plans to build a road, which sparked the prolonged standoff in the Doka La area near Sikkim, and said it would "make adjustments" with the situation on the ground.

File image of Hua Chunying, spokeswoman of China's Foreign Ministry. Reuters

File image of Hua Chunying, spokeswoman of China's Foreign Ministry. Reuters

As the Indian statement on mutual "expeditious disengagement” went viral on social media and among Chinese journalists, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying sought to highlight the withdrawal of Indian troops to dispel impressions of a climbdown by Beijing.

“On the afternoon on 28th August, India has pulled back all the trespassing personnel, equipment to the Indian side of the boundary,” she said.

“Chinese personnel on the ground have verified this. The Chinese side will continue to exercise its sovereignty, uphold territorial integrity in accordance with the historical conventions," she said, stonewalling questions about India’s announcement of mutual disengagement of troops.

The Chinese side, Hua added, continues to patrol the Doka La area.

She also declined to go into questions on whether there was any mutual understanding between the two countries to resolve the standoff.

However, after repeated questions, she said, “I can tell you that China will make adjustments with the situation on the ground.” She did not elaborate.

Hua was also conspicuously silent about whether China would proceed with the building of the road in Doka La, which was the prime reason for the standoff.

India wanted the status quo to be restored to withdraw its troops.

Bhutan, which claimed sovereignty over the area, had lodged a diplomatic protest to China on 28 June.

Troops of the two countries have been locked in a standoff in Doka La since 16 June after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the disputed area.

India wanted the status quo to be restored to withdraw its troops.

Indian troops intervened to stop Chinese troops from building the road close to the strategic Chicken Neck, the narrow corridor connecting India’s mainland with its North East.

India said China’s road building also violated the 2012 agreement between the Special Representatives of India and China to resolve the boundary issue. The agreement referred to the strategic tri-junction between India, China and Bhutan.

Developments in Doka La come days of ahead of the 3-5 September BRICS, (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in the Chinese city of Xiamen.

So far, none of the leaders of the five-member bloc, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, have announced their visits.

Updated Date: Aug 29, 2017 08:46 AM

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