All quiet on India-China border says PM Modi

All quiet on India-China border says PM Modi

Trashes Congress clamour over military build-up

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Defence Minister of China, General Wei Fenghe during a meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday virtually dismissed opposition Congress' clamour over reports about China's continued military build-up in and around Doklam in Bhutan. 

As Chinese Defence Minister, Gen Wei Fenghe, called on him in New Delhi, Prime Minister noted that peace and tranquillity was prevailing along the disputed India-China border. A press release issued by Prime Minister's Office after his meeting with Chinese Defence Minister quoted him saying that “maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas” was “indicative of the sensitivity and maturity with which India and China handle their differences, not allowing them to become disputes”.

Wei arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday. His is the first high-level visit from Beijing to New Delhi after Modi had an “informal summit” with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Wuhan in China on April 27 and 28 and agreed on a roadmap to ease strains in bilateral relations, which hit a new low over the military stand-off in Doklam Plateau in western Bhutan last year. 

In his meeting with Chinese Defence Minister, Modi termed India-China relations as “a factor of stability in the world”. 

Wei and his host, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, will hold formal talks on Thursday. 

Prime Minister's avowal on prevalence of “peace and tranquility” along the disputed India-China border came weeks after the opposition Congress criticized the Union Government led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for allegedly trying to cover up continued build-up by Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) in and around Doklam near India-China-Bhutan tri-junction boundary point. His comment also came just days after media reported an incursion by Chinese PLA across the Line of Actual Control – the de-facto border between India and China – at Demchok in eastern Ladakh.

India and China had a 72-day-long military face-off at Doklam in Bhutan last year. It started in the middle of June 2017 when Chinese PLA personnel came to the area along the disputed Sino-Bhutan border and started building a road, brushing aside the protests by the Royal Bhutanese Army personnel. The Indian Army soldiers from Sikkim went to the scene on June 18 and stopped the Chinese PLA soldiers from constructing the road, which would have had “serious security implications” for the “Siliguri Corridor” linking India's north-eastern States with the rest of the country. 

The intervention by Indian Army resulted in a face-off with the Chinese PLA personnel. It ended on August 28 with both sides withdrawing troops from the scene. 

Modi Government has since been persistently claiming that the status quo at the scene of the face-off has been restored and prevailing. 

The media reports however indicated continued build-up by Chinese PLA in the vicinity. This prompted the opposition Congress to accuse the BJP-led Government of hiding the truth. Congress president Rahul Gandhi earlier this year questioned Prime Minister's silence over media reports on resumption of construction of road and other military infrastructure by Chinese PLA near Doklam. After External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj made a statement in Parliament confirming continuation of status quo at the scene of last year's face-off at Doklam Plateau, Gandhi on August 2 last criticized her for “prostrating” before China. 

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs could not finalize and submit its report on India-China military face-off at Doklam Plateau due to differences between the Congress and the BJP MPs over certain parts of it. 

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