What if we enter Kashmir? China continues to needle India on Doklam border standoff
China, this time through official sources, needled India once again over the ongoing Doklam standoff, asking New Delhi what it would do if Beijing “enters” Kashmir.
An official from the China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that while referring to India’s assertion that China attempting to extend a road near the India-China-Bhutan trijunction was a change of status quo. “We think it is not doable for the Indian side to use tri-junction as an excuse,” Wang Wenli, Deputy Director General of Boundary and Ocean Affairs, said.
“The Indian side has also many trijunctions. What if we use the same excuse and enter the Kalapani region between China, India and Nepal or even into the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan,” she went on to say, referring to regions that are disputed between India and its neighbours – Kashmir with Pakistan and Kalapani in Uttarakhand with Nepal.
“Therefore, using the trijunction as an excuse does not hold water at all. It will only cause more trouble,” Wang added.
Wang Wenli was speaking to Indian journalists who had been called by the country’s state run journalist association to hear out China’s stand on the Doklam standoff.
For nearly two months now, soldiers of the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army have been locked in a face-off on the Doklam plataue near the Sikkim border.
The standoff began after Indian soldiers intervened on behalf of their Bhutanese counterparts to stop the PLA from extending a road into the Doklam region.
India later said that Beijing’s actions posed a risk to India’s national security as China’s extending the road would pose a risk to the so-called Chicken’s Neck that links India to its northeast.
The Chinese foreign ministry official rejected India’s proposal that troops of both the countries withdraw simultaneously to end the standoff.
“Until the Indian side withdraws from the Chinese territory, there will be no substantive talks between us,” Wang Weli said, while reiterating Beijing’s stand that the only way to end the present crisis on the border was the withdrawal of Indian troops from Doklam.
“Even if there is only one Indian soldier, even for a day it is still a violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Wang further said, going on to say that there is no way China can hold talks with India right now. “It is impossible to have a dialogue with India at this time. Our people will think our government is incompetent.”
Asked whether China was getting ready for a war with India, Wang said, “I can only say that for the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) and for the Chinese government, we have the determination. So, if the Indian side decides to go down the wrong path or still have illusions about this incident, then we have the right to use any act that is in line with the international law to protect our rights.”
Wang said India and China had many standoffs before but “we haven’t issued any position paper till now”. “But this time we have the position paper and in the position paper, you can find clear information about our position and possible moves by us,” she said, referring to a 15-page fact sheet issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry few days ago.
“The Indian border troops are sending a signal of aggression while the signals sent by the foreign ministry is for peaceful negotiations. So, we think these two signals do not match with each other,” she said.
Wang also rejected a negotiated solution by restoring status quo with the simultaneous withdrawal of Indian and Chinese troops to their earlier positions.
Referring to reports in the Indian media that both the countries’ border troops can withdraw at the same time to restore the status quo, Wang said “this is also unacceptable for China”.
“Because the facts are clear. It is the Indian troops that crossed the mutually recognised boundary into the Chinese territory. So, it is the Indian border troops that have the responsibility to withdraw,” she said.
DIPLOMATIC PARLAYS ON?
While making it clear the China wants Indian troops to withdraw immediately, Wang also indicated that diplomatic talks with India have been on, saying the “diplomatic channel” has been open in the past 50 days of the standoff.
Wang did not comment on the aggressive, rehtoric-laden campaign that has been run by the Chinese state media. Chinese publications have taken strong, sometimes hawkish stand on the Doklam standoff, with some outlets, like the Global Times, even warning of a war.
Wang’s comment, however, Wang’s comments marked the first instance is the first time that a Chinese official sought to bring in the Kashmir issue; such a remark was made earlier by a scholar in the state-run Global Times.
Meanwhile, India has maintained that both sides should withdraw their troops simultaneously with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj recently saying that India favours a peaceful resolution of the border standoff.
(With PTI inputs)