Home >Politics >Policy >Sikkim standoff: China warns India not to test resolve, says will increase troops

New Delhi: China on Monday warned India not to “push" its “luck" by underestimating Beijing’s resolve to safeguard what it considers sovereign Chinese territory, amid an ongoing military standoff between the two neighbours in the tri-junction between India, China and Bhutan.

Chinese defence ministry spokesman colonel Wu Qian reiterated China’s demand that Indian troops pull back from the Dokalam Plateau, an area also claimed by Indian ally Bhutan where Chinese teams had been building a road towards India’s border.

Wu also said China will step up its troop deployment vowing to defend its sovereignty at “whatever cost".

The comments come ahead of a visit to China by India’s national security adviser Ajit Doval on 27-28 July for a meeting with his counterparts of the Brics group of large developing nations that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Doval, who is India’s special representative to engage with China on issues relating to their unsettled border, could meet Chinese special representative on border issues Yang Jiechi while in Beijing. Neither side has confirmed any meeting between the two but India has spoken of engaging in “quiet diplomacy" to sort out the standoff.

“China’s determination and resolve to safeguard national security and sovereignty is unshakable," Wu said at a news conference to mark the upcoming 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

“Here, I wish to remind India, do not push your luck and cling to any fantasies," Wu said. “The 90-year history of the PLA has proved but one thing: that our military means to secure our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity has strengthened and our determination has never wavered. It is easier to shake a mountain than to shake the PLA," he said.

Chinese “border troops have taken emergency response measures in the area and will further step up deployment and trainings in response to the situation," Wu said.

India and China have a dispute over their boundaries dating back to the 1962 War and are in talks to resolve their differences. Tensions between the neighbours have been high for the past month with Chinese troops trying to construct a road on the Dokalam plateau in Bhutan that the Bhutanese objected to. Indian troops stationed in Bhutan under a special security arrangement have intervened to keep Chinese troops at bay, triggering the face-off.

Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognizes as Dokalam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region. Of the 3,488-km India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim.

India has called for both sides to withdraw forces while China has said that India should withdraw its troops before the two sides engage in talks about Dokalam.

This was repeated by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang on Monday.

“China and India have a smooth diplomatic channel," he said. “The crux now is Indian border troops illegally stayed on China’s territory. Once again, we urge India to pull back to the Indian side of the boundary. I want to stress that this is precondition for any meaningful talks between the two sides."

While India and China have exercised restraint so far, the heightening of rhetoric from Beijing has raised concern over a renewal of hostilities that resulted in a brief but bloody frontier war in 1962. The Asian giants share a 3,500km border, much of it under dispute, since the war.

Keeping up weeks-long propaganda assault on New Delhi, official Chinese newspapers on Monday again labelled India’s actions on the Dokalam Plateau as illegal and threatening to China’s security.

“Even if the standoff is resolved diplomatically, it has already crippled the bilateral relationship. This will have a long-term impact on Sino-Indian ties," Chinese India scholar Long Xingchun wrote in the Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party.

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