ON THE WEB, 17 August 2017
China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday once again asked India to withdraw all its troops and equipment from Chinese territory, as the border standoff in the Dong Lang (Doklam) area approaches its second month.
On 18 June, over 270 armed Indian troops with two bulldozers crossed the boundary in the Sikkim Sector and advanced more than 100 metres into China.
As of end of July, there were still over 40 Indian troops and one bulldozer in Chinese territory.
The Dong Lang area borders India’s Sikkim state to the west and the Kingdom of Bhutan to the south. Dong Lang is described as a disputed territory in some western media reports, which is simply untrue.
In 1890, China and the UK signed the Convention Between Great Britain and China Relating to Sikkim and Tibet, which delimited the boundary between the Tibet region of China and Sikkim. According to the Convention, Dong Lang is Chinese territory. Chinese troops patrol the area and Chinese herdsmen graze livestock there.
“This Convention of 1890 also defined the boundary between Sikkim and Tibet; and the boundary was later, in 1895, demarcated. There is thus no dispute regarding the boundary of Sikkim with the Tibet region,” read a letter from Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to Chinese premier Zhou Enlai in 1959.
China is building roads on its own territory, did not cross the boundary and notified India in advance. India did not raise any objection at that time, or any other, until its troops suddenly invaded Dong Lang.
“India intentionally started this standoff to test China,” said Li Qingyan of the China Institute of International Studies. China’s bottom line is the border line, as shown in the 1962 incident with India.
As a Chinese saying goes, a good neighbor is better than a distant brother. China of course has no desire to enter into a war with its neighbour.
China and India are two developing giants with a wide range of common interests. A sensible bilateral relationship will definitely benefit over two billion people.
But Chinese people will never back down in defending sovereignty and no country should underestimate China’s resolve.