Won't back down on Doklam, China tells diplomats in Beijing

18 July 2017

A month into the standoff at Doklam, China has conveyed to foreign diplomats in Beijing that troops of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) have been waiting patiently at the plateau but will not wait for an indefinite period, reports The Indian Express.

This has the diplomatic community in Beijing worried, and some have conveyed this message to their Indian counterparts in Beijing and Bhutanese counterparts in New Delhi, the report adds.

Last month, Indian troops blocked Chinese road works in Doklam and have since been in a faceoff with PLA troops. Beijing has been insisting that New Delhi back down.

Sources told The Indian Express that Chinese officials, at a closed-door briefing last week, conveyed their version of events to diplomats stationed in Beijing. Some of the G-20 countries have been briefed by the Chinese government separately.

''Our colleagues in Beijing attended the briefing and were given the impression that the Chinese side will not wait for an indefinite period. This is quite worrying, and we have conveyed it to our Indian colleagues in Beijing and Bhutanese colleagues in Delhi,'' a diplomat from one of the P-5 (permanent members of the UN Security Council) countries told The Indian Express.

The diplomatic community in Beijing has been told that the dispute is between China and Bhutan, and the Indian soldiers have ''jumped in''.

''They have told our colleagues in Beijing that the Indian side has trespassed into Chinese territory and changed the status quo,'' the diplomat said.

India's stance is that China is the intruder. In a 30 June statement, New Delhi said it is ''deeply concerned'' at recent Chinese actions and has conveyed to the Chinese government that the road construction will represent a ''significant change of status quo with serious security implications for India''.

The Chinese have told diplomats in Beijing that they have strong evidence to prove that Doklam belongs to China. They said Doklam has always been the ''traditional pasture for Chinese border inhabitants'' and that their archives still retain ''some receipts of the grass tax paid by Bhutanese herdsmen''.

They maintained that Indian troops must pull back to the Indian side of the boundary unconditionally and immediately as a precondition for meaningful dialogue between China and India.

The Indian side has underlined that the two governments had reached agreement in 2012 that the tri-junction boundary points between India, China and a third country will be finalised in consultation with the country concerned. ''Any attempt, therefore, to unilaterally determine tri-junction points is in violation of this understanding,'' the Indian ministry of external affairs said in its statement.

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