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Doklam our territory, but CPEC can be discussed: China

30 January 2018

China on Monday said it is ready to hold talks with India to resolve differences on the contentious $50-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, but maintained that the Doklam plateau falls within its territory.

Asked about Indian Ambassador to China Gautam Bambawale's interview to state-run Global Times in which he had said that differences on the CPEC should not be swept under the carpet, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China is willing to hold talks with India in this regard.

"I noted the relevant report. Regarding the CPEC, China has repeatedly reiterated our position. As to the differences between China and India, China stands ready to communicate and hold talks with India to seek a proper solution so that these differences will not affect our general national interests. This best serves the interests of the two countries," she said.

On Bambawale's statement that the status quo should not be changed along the sensitive areas of the 3,488-km border, Chunying said that differences can be addressed through existing mechanisms. "I believe that you are blowing it (the Doklam standoff) out of proportion. I believe that in the post-Doklam period, India and China need to be talking to each other and conversing with each other much more than in the past" at different levels including at the leadership level, Bambawale had said.

India and China ended the 73-day standoff at Doklam on 28 August last year after the People's Liberation Army (PLA) stopped building a strategic road close to India's narrow Chicken's Neck area connecting the northeastern states.

Differences arising between the two countries can be resolved with sincerity and mutual respect, Hua said, adding that the parties can seek proper solution for management of the differences.

"I should stress that it (area) falls within China's sovereignty that we conduct facility building in Dong Long (Doklam) area," Hua responded when asked about the satellite images which showed new Chinese military facilities at Doklam.

"The Sikkim section of the China-India boundary has been demarcated by historic treaty and treaty under effective jurisdiction of China," she said. China claims that the Sikkim section of the boundary is resolved under the 1890 treaty between UK and China. "China has always upheld our sovereignty along the border area including Dong Long," she said.

"Some Indian media has carried reports about the military build up and infrastructure building in the (Doklam) area. They are very excited about it," Hua said.

"We should not ask one party alone to solve this problem. We are willing to work with India to work with dialogue and communication for a better solution," she said.

"CPEC is merely an economic cooperation project. It has not targeted any third party. We hope the Indian side can put this in perspective and we stand ready to strengthen cooperation with the Indian side," she said.

The CPEC is a network of infrastructure projects that are currently under construction throughout Pakistan that will connect Chinas Xinjiang province with Gwadar port in Pakistan's Balochistan province.

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