China’s military on Thursday said it will beef up the presence of troops and patrols to protect “every inch” of its territory in Dokalam but was evasive on the construction of the road which was stopped by Indian troops, leading to a 73-day standoff.
India and China on Monday ended their standoff in Dokalam by withdrawing their troops from the area, just days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China to attend the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit.
“The Chinese military will continue to carry out its missions and responsibilities, beef up patrols and troops stationed there and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security,” Ren Guoqiang, a spokesperson for the Chinese defence ministry, said in his first interaction with the media after the end of the standoff.
He, however, was evasive about People’s Liberation Army’s move to build the road close to the strategic Chicken Neck area in Dokalam which prompted the Indian troops to intervene and stop its construction.
Bhutan, which claims sovereignty over the area, protested to China for building the road on Bhutanese territory.
“In the light of the changes in the landscape we have made adjustment in our deployment,” he said, without elaborating.
“The Chinese side will continue to patrol the Dong Long (Dokalam) area for a long period of time to better guard our border and improve the living and working conditions of the military and civilians living in the area,” Ren said.
“We have long built infrastructure construction and including building of roads. In future, we will continue to make plan for infrastructure construction taking into consideration various factors including weather conditions,” he said, without elaborating about plans to build the road.
China has tried to highlight the Indian troops withdrawal while remaining silent about the fate of the road which was the primary objection for India.Ren also rubbished speculative reports in social media claiming that China promised India huge loans for the withdrawal of the troops.
“On your question about China providing loans to India to withdraw troops, we have checked with the relevant authorities of the government and such reports are pure fabrication,” he said.
Claiming that “Dokalam is China’s inherent territory” disregarding Bhutan’s claims, Ren said, “every inch of the beautiful mountains and rivers of the motherland cannot be lost. Chinese armed forces will carry out the sacred mission safeguarding territorial integrity and national sovereignty and protect every inch of the land in Dokalam.”
He also put up a lengthy defence about how Chinese military handled the standoff - regarded as the worst between the two countries since the 1962 war.
On the incident at the Pangong lake in Ladakh, where troops on both sides scuffled and pelted stones at each other, he said, “the Indian side should enforce strict discipline on the border defence troops and abide by the agreements and consensus reached by the two sides so as to maintain peace and tranquillity along the border.”
China said earlier that it lodged a protest to India on the incident.The “military-to-military relationship between India and China is an important component for the overall bilateral relationship between the two countries,” he said.
“The defence establishments and armed forces should strengthen strategic communication to avoid misjudgement and misunderstanding. But such kind of healthy development requires efforts from both sides,” he added.