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Sikkim standoff: China to consider issuing travel advisory to citizens visiting India

China said on Wednesday that it was weighing its options on issuing a travel alert for citizens visiting India depending on the security situation following the border standoff in the Sikkim section.

"The Chinese government attaches great importance to safety and lawful rights and interests of overseas Chinese citizens in accordance with the security condition of the relevant countries," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing, PTI said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

"We will decide whether or not to issue a travel alert," Geng said as he was responding to a question about write-ups in Chinese media cautioning Chinese investors in India.

On Tuesday, a leading official newspaper in Beijing warned Chinese companies operating in India to be be alert and take steps to avoid being hit by anti-China sentiment.

An article in the Global Times called on Chinese firms to reduce their investments in India in view of the tension.

Since the standoff on 6 June, when the People's Liberation Army destroyed bunkers of the India Army claiming the area belonged to China, Chinese media have carried several pieces blaming India for escalating border tension and "reminding" the Indian Army about the 1962 war.

India and China have been engaged in a standoff in the Doka La (known as Doklam in Bhutan and Donglang in China) area near the Bhutan trijunction for over a month. It has been the longest impasse between the Indian and Chinese armies since 1962, when the two countries fought a brief war.

The standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries was triggered when the Indian Army blocked the construction of a road by China in the Doka La area.

The standoff came to notice when China denied Indian pilgrims entry for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through the Nathu La pass in Sikkim. At first, Beijing said it stopped the Yatra due to damage to roads in Tibet after rains and landslides. Later, China signalled the matter was related to the standoff between the two armies near Sikkim.

India has pushed in more troops in a “non-combative mode” to strengthen its position in the area. This is the longest standoff between the two armies since 1962. The last one, which carried on for 21 days, occurred at Daulat Beg Oldie in the Ladakh division of Jammu and Kashmir in 2013, when Chinese troops entered 30 km into Indian territory till the Depsang Plains and claimed it to be a part of its Xinjiang province.

At a time when New Delhi is vigilant of Beijing's slightest of moves amid the two neighbours' longest border standoff, China has again reacted aggressively, this time in the Indian Ocean.

According to a report in India Today, China has deployed an advanced Yuan class — conventional diesel electric — submarine in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The presence of the stealth submarine was detected recently by the Indian Navy.

In an interesting aside, Beijing also launched what it calls "the most advanced and largest warship in Asia," just days after the standoff was reported.

Although in an IANS report, sources have suggested that the moves have nothing to do with the standoff between the Indian and Chinese troops along the Sikkim border, Beijing's increased interference in the backyard of India is hardly news, yet a reason enough to be concerned about.

Beijing has increasingly been assertive in the Indian Ocean, docking its warships at the ports of other countries in the region, bypassing Indian influence on its neighbours.

Another Yuan class submarine was only recently "picked up" by Indian Navy's Poseidon-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft as soon as it crossed the Malacca Strait on 19-20 April. The India Today report too stated that this would be China's seventh submarine to be deployed in the area. Many more Chinese warships are prowling in the Indian waters.

According to latest reports, at least 13 Chinese naval units were detected in the Indian Ocean over the last two months, The Times of India said — ostensibly in the name of anti-piracy operations.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Jul 05, 2017 16:39 PM

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