China's Sikkim move follows India's cold shoulder

New Delhi was not keen on proposed interim settlement

China's Sikkim move follows India's cold shoulder

 China’s move to re-assert its claim on the territories of India in Sikkim came after New Delhi cold-shouldered Beijing’s proposal for an interim settlement on the less-disputed stretches of the boundary.

The recent transgression by the soldiers of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into the Indian territory in Sikkim seems to be an attempt by Beijing to prod New Delhi into accepting its proposal to start negotiations on an “early-harvest agreement” to settle the dispute on the less contentious stretches of the boundary.

Beijing wants to start discussions on the interim deal soon, possibly when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will host his counterpart, China’s State Councillor Yang Jiechi, in New Delhi later this year, sources told DH.

Doval and Yang are at present special representatives from their respective countries for the negotiations to resolve the boundary disputes.

They had the 19th round of  parleys in Beijing in April 2016. They agreed to hold the 20th round in New Delhi this year.

New Delhi, however, has been wary of the implications of the proposed interim deal on future negotiations on the more contentious stretches in eastern and western sectors.

PLA soldiers had transgressed into Indian territory near Doka La in east Sikkim earlier this month, and had destroyed some makeshift bunkers of the Indian Army.

Beijing, however, said the Indian Army soldiers had stopped the PLA soldiers from constructing a road at Doklam in the territory of China.

Kailash trip blocked

Beijing also declined to allow pilgrims from India to cross over to China through Nathu La, for the annual pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar.

Beijing’s latest move is seen as a reassertion of its territorial claim along the disputed China-India boundary in Sikkim five months after it signalled its renewed interest in settling the territorial row in a piecemeal manner — beginning with the less contentious stretches in the middle sector (Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh) and Sikkim, before going for a settlement in the more contentious western (stretches in Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir) and eastern (Arunachal Pradesh) sectors.

An “early-harvest agreement” on the boundary was one of the four proposals put forward by China’s Ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, in January this year to add momentum to the bilateral relations between the two nations.

Cautious response

New Delhi, however, has been cautious and non-committal in its response.
The intrusion by two Chinese helicopters into Indian airspace in Uttarakhand earlier this month was also aimed at sending out a message to New Delhi that Beijing could harden its position on the less disputed stretches of the border, if its proposals for negotiations on the interim deal were not accepted, sources said.

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