Withdraw from Doklam to avoid confrontation, China’s PLA tells India
New Delhi: Almost two months into a military standoff between India and China on the Doklam plateau in Bhutan, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Monday issued a fresh warning to India to withdraw its troops or risk sparking a confrontation.
According to a PTI report, senior colonel Li Li of the PLA accused India of occupying Chinese territory and said PLA would do its best to protect China’s territorial integrity.
“What the Indian troops have done is an invasion of Chinese territory,” Li told a group of visiting Indian journalists at a garrison on the outskirts of Beijing, PTI reported. “We have the resolve and determination” to defend Chinese territory, he added.
Tensions between the Asian giants have been high since 16 June after Bhutan objected to an attempt by Chinese troops to build a road on the Doklam plateau. Indian troops stationed in Bhutan under a special security arrangement intervened to keep Chinese troops at bay. India says the action to construct the road was unilateral and changes status quo. It fears the road will allow China to cut off its access to northeastern states.
At an event to mark the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the PLA had the confidence to defeat “all invading armies and safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests.”
The visiting Indian journalists were witness to a rare demonstration of combat skills of PLA troops, which included sharp shooting skills with small arms and the capture of “hostile forces” in close combat, the PTI report said.
According to China, about 48 Indian troops are staying put in Doklam, with a large build-up of Indian soldiers just behind. “What the PLA will do depends on the actions of the Indian side. We will take appropriate action when it is necessary,” Li said.
“We will follow the orders of the ruling CPC (Communist Party of China) and the Central Military Commission (which has the overall high command of the 2.3 million strong army headed by Chinese President Xi Jinping).”
Meanwhile, China’s state-controlled China Daily website in an article on Monday said “geostrategic miscalculations” were behind India’s border “trespassing”.
“For China, the trespassing by Indian troops was unexpected and it is unacceptable as it happened in a section of the boundary that has hitherto been considered beyond dispute by both sides in the otherwise long drawn out and arduous boundary negotiations,” it said. India’s “trespassing” amounts to no less than a violation of China’s territorial sovereignty, and China has the lawful right to take “whatever measures” it deems necessary to defend its territory, it said.
“While misunderstandings between neighbours are understandable, India should engage in candid dialogue, not lawless provocations,” it said, adding the warning that time was fast running out for India to pull out from Chinese territory.
“India should do well to remember that its neighbour has the capability to defeat all invading enemies,” it said.