India on Wednesday flatly rejected China’s claim that the number of troops engaged in the Doklam standoff had fallen and asserted that peace and tranquillity at the border are important for smooth development of ties.
China had claimed on Tuesday that India has reduced the number of its troops from 400 to 40 by the end of July in the Doklam area of Sikkim section, where the troops from the two countries are involved in a standoff for nearly two months.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a 15-page fact sheet with maps and other details about the standoff since it began on June 16.It said that on June 18 about 270 Indian troops, carrying weapons and driving two bulldozers, crossed the boundary in the Sikkim Sector at the Doklam pass and “advanced more than 100 meters into the Chinese territory to obstruct the road building of the Chinese side, causing tension in the area.”
“In addition to the two bulldozers, the trespassing Indian border troops, reaching as many as over 400 people at one point, have put up three tents and advanced over 180 meters into the Chinese territory,” it claimed.
“As of the end of July, there were still over 40 Indian border troops and one bulldozer illegally staying in the Chinese territory,” the document said.
In New Delhi, the ministry of external affairs spokesperson said India’s position on the Doklam issue and related facts have been articulated in a statement on June 30.
“India considers that peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas is an important prerequisite for smooth development of our bilateral relations with China,” the spokesperson said in response to a query on China’s document.
The Chinese document said since June 18 the Indian border troops have “illegally crossed the China-India boundary in the Sikkim Sector and entered the Chinese territory.”
“This is an undeniable fact. The incident occurred in an area where there is a clear and delimited boundary. This makes it fundamentally different from past frictions between the border troops of the two sides in areas with undelimited boundary,” it said.
The China-India boundary in the Sikkim Sector has already been delimited, and the Dong Lang area is Chinese territory, the fact sheet claimed.China did not cross the boundary in its road building, and it notified India in advance in full reflection of China?s goodwill, the document said.
New Delhi has expressed concern over China’s road building activities in the border areas, apprehending that it may allow Chinese troops to cut India’s access to its northeastern states.Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region.
Of the 3,488-km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim.Bhutan had protested to China, saying that the area belonged to it and accused Beijing of violating agreements to maintain status quo until it is resolved.
However, the fact sheet said, “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.
”It asserted that China will take “all necessary measures” to safeguard its legitimate and lawful rights and interests, and India should immediately and unconditionally withdraw its trespassing border troops.
With PTI inputs