Road construction has serious implications, India tells China

Road construction has serious implications, India tells China
China's recent move to build a road at Doklam Plateau in western Bhutan would have “serious security implications” for India, New Delhi said on Friday.

India also said that its soldiers, in consultation with the Royal Government of Bhutan, had approached the construction personnel of the People's Liberation Army of China and “urged them” to stop building the road in Doklam Plateau. Beijing earlier this week alleged that Indian Army had trespassed into the territory of China and stopped the PLA personnel from constructing the road.

New Delhi on Friday ended its silence over the face-off between the Indian Army and Chinese PLA soldiers at the tri-junction point of the boundary of India, China and Bhutan. India alleged that China's move to build the road and thus to unilaterally change the status quo in the area was in violation of a 2012 bilateral understanding.

“India is deeply concerned at the recent Chinese actions and has conveyed to the Chinese Government that such construction would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for India,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement issued on Friday.

New Delhi underlined that India and China had in 2012 reached agreement that the tri-junction boundary points between the two nations and “third countries” would be finalized “in consultation with the concerned countries”. “Any attempt, therefore, to unilaterally determine tri-junction points is in violation of this understanding,” it added.

China's border guards at Nathu La in Sikkim last week stopped pilgrims from India to cross over to the communist country for the annual pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet. Beijing this week stated that it stopped the pilgrims from India to enter China after Indian Army personnel trespassed into its territory and stopped the soldiers of its People's Liberation Army from constructing a road.

The area Beijing has of late accused Indian Army soldiers of trespassing into is in Bhutan, but China has been staking a claim on it to gain a strategic edge over India.

Doklam Plateau is a subject of dispute between China and Bhutan. Thimphu too on Thursday asked Beijing not to unilaterally change the status quo and drop its plan to build the road.

The road China claims to be building in its “own territory” in Doklam Plateau would give it a strategic advantage against India in a possible military conflict in future. The plateau overlooks the Chumbi Valley, which is not far from “Siliguri Corridor” - the narrow stretch of land that connects India's seven north-eastern States with the rest of the country. What makes Doklam Plateau and Chumbi Valley important for China's strategic calculus is the fact that control over the area would make it easier for its People's Liberation Army to conduct military manoeuvres aimed at blocking the Siliguri Corridor.

India on Friday called upon “all parties concerned” to display “utmost restraint and abide by their respective bilateral understandings not to change the status quo unilaterally”. “It is also important that the consensus reached between India and China through the Special Representatives process is scrupulously respected by both sides,” the MEA said in its statement.

New Delhi also said that it cherished peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas. “Both sides have worked hard to establish an institutional framework to discuss all issues to ensure peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas,” said the MEA. “India is committed to working with China to find the peaceful resolution of all issues in the border areas through dialogue.” 

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