Indian military presence in Doklam thinning, says China

China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said the number of Indian soldiers in Doklam since the beginning of the crisis had come down from 270 to 40 by the end of July.

It said it had informed India in advance about its road building activity in Doklam on the border and reiterated its demand that New Delhi must withdraw its troops immediately from the area.

 Beijing, which earlier said it won’t talk to New Delhi until the Indian troops leave, also hinted that the two sides were in touch to resolve the dragging dispute on the Sikkim section of the border.

 In a 15-page document, China’s Foreign Ministry said the number of Indian soldiers in Doklam since the beginning of the crisis had come down from 270 to 40 by the end of July.

 The stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers began on June 16 over a road being built by the Chinese Army in Doklam.

 Indian troops stopped them from constructing the road, citing the pending ownership of Doklam. Both China and Bhutan claim Doklam. India supports Bhutan’s claims.

 “China’s road building on its own territory is aimed at improving local transportation, which is completely lawful and legitimate. China did not cross the boundary in its road building, and it notified India in advance in full reflection of China’s goodwill,” the ministry said.

The document dismissed India’s claims that China was attempting to change the status quo of the border region by building a road.

 It said Indian troops “transgressing” into Chinese territory was “indeed a real attempt to change the status quo of the boundary, and it has gravely undermined peace and tranquility of the China-India border area”.

 The comments came in a document titled “The Facts and China’s Position Concerning the Indian Border Troops Crossing of the China-India Boundary in the Sikkim Sector into the Chinese Territory”.

 It dismissed India’s contention that the road building at the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan had serious security implications for New Delhi.

 India sees the road as a threat to its security as it is very close to its arterial Siliguri corridor, which connects the country’s northeast with the mainland.

 “To cross a delimited boundary and enter the territory of a neighbouring country on the grounds of so-called ‘security concerns’, for whatever activities, runs counter to the basic principles of international law and basic norms governing international relations.

 “No such attempt will be tolerated by any sovereign state, still less should it be the normal way of conduct between China and India as two neighbouring states.”

 The document maintained that China had no issues with Bhutan and both sides were deliberating on the boundary issue and this was of no concern to India.

 “The China-Bhutan boundary issue is one between China and Bhutan. It has nothing to do with India. As a third party, India has no right to interfere in or impede the boundary talks between China and Bhutan, still less the right to make territorial claims on Bhutan’s behalf.

 “The incident took place on the Chinese side of the delimited boundary. India should immediately and unconditionally withdraw its trespassing border troops back to the Indian side of the boundary. This is a prerequisite and basis for resolving the incident.

 “Since the incident occurred, China has shown utmost goodwill and great restraint and sought to communicate with India through diplomatic channels to resolve the incident.” the statement said.

 India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval met China’s top diplomat here on the sidelines of last week’s BRICS security meet.

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