Doklam standoff: China silent on report about ‘small-scale military operation’
Beijing: Amid rhetoric in the state-run media in Beijing about China contemplating a “small-scale military operation” to evict Indian troops from Doklam within two weeks, a top PLA official on Monday declined to back it but said that India should withdraw its soldiers unconditionally to end the 50-day long standoff from escalating.
“This kind of reports represents the view of the media and think-tanks. For official information please refer to the statements of foreign ministry and defence ministry spokespersons,” China’s defence ministry’s spokesman Sr. Col. Ren Guoqiang told an Indian media delegation in Beijing. He was asked to comment on a report by the state-run Global Times quoting a think-tank that China is contemplating a “small scale military operation” to dislodge Indian troops from Doklam area within two weeks.
“China will not allow the military standoff between China and India in Doklam to last for too long, and there may be a small-scale military operation to expel Indian troops within two weeks,” Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted by Global Times on 5 August as saying. Hu said that the military operation would aim to “seize Indian personnel illegally lingering in Chinese territory or to expel them”.
“The Chinese side will inform the Indian foreign ministry before its operation,” Hu said, without elaborating on how a scholar based in Shanghai could have such information about the plans by the Chinese military. In his two-hour-long interaction with the Indian media delegation being hosted by the official body, the All China Journalists Association (ACJA), Col. Ren refused to comment on Hu’s claims beyond referring journalists to the foreign and defence ministry spokespersons.
He, however, took pains to make a case that Doklam is Chinese territory and Beijing has “ample legal and historical proof”. “We have all the legitimate rights to construct the road in Chinese territory,” he said, referring to the action on 16 June which triggered the crisis, leading to the Indian troops intervening to stop its construction. Accusing the Indian troops of illegally crossing into the Chinese territory, he reiterated China’s stand that the Indian side should withdraw its troops “immediately and unconditionally”.
New Delhi has expressed concern over China’s road building activities in the border areas, apprehending that it may allow Chinese troops to cut India’s access to its northeastern states. Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognizes as Dokalam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region. Col. Ren also questioned why India has maintained silence over China’s plans to build the road even after Beijing informed New Delhi twice. He said China informed India on 18 May and followed on 8 June. The Chinese foreign ministry said earlier that the information was conveyed through the border meeting mechanism to resolve the disputes.
He had a word of praise for the border meeting mechanism, saying that it is a “very mature and stable border exchange mechanism between China and India”. He also denied allegations that China was an expansionist country and a hegemonistic power. “This is not in our genes,” he said, when asked about public perception in India that China was an expansionist power because of its backing to Pakistan to prevent a UN ban on JeM terror group leader Masood Azhar and building of $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Pakistan- occupied Kashmir (PoK). PTI