There is “no change” in the status quo situation at the Dokalam standoff area after it was resolved last year, India’s envoy Gautam Bambawale said. The Indian envoy also blamed China squarely for the face off, saying it happened because Beijing tried to alter the “status quo” which it should not have.
The 73-day long standoff ended on August 28 last year after China agreed to halt the road building activities at Dokalam in Sikkim section.
“No, I can tell you that in Dokalam area, which we call close proximity or sometimes the face off site, the area where there was close confrontation or close proximity between Indian and Chinese military troops, there is no change taking place today,” India’s Ambassador to China Bambawale said.
The envoy was reacting to the reports of Chinese military stepping up infrastructure build-up in the area.
The Chinese side may be putting more military barracks to put in more soldiers, but that is well behind the sensitive area, he said in an interview to Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
“Those are the things you’re free to do and we are also free to do, because you’re doing it inside your territory and we are doing it inside our territory,” Bambawale said.
Indian troops intervened to stop their Chinese counterparts building a road close to India’s narrow corridor “Chicken Neck” area connecting northeastern states. Besides China, the area is also claimed by Bhutan.
In the interview, Bambawale also reiterated his earlier comments that China should not change the status quo along the Indian border and inform India about its plans earlier.
“In the sense that if the Chinese military is going to build a road, then they must tell us ‘we are going to build a road’. If we do not agree to it then we can reply that, ‘look, you’re changing the status quo. Please don’t do it. This is a very very sensitive area,” the envoy said.
Bambawale also called for delineation of the 3,488-km long Line of Actual Control (LAC) which China has refused.
“The India-China boundary is un-demarcated and un-delineated, so we have to talk to each other to delineate and demarcate it, which means to draw the boundary line,” he said.
“Now for the last 30 years, not a single shot had been fired between the India-China border, which shows that we have been successful at maintaining peace and tranquility… I think this is a successful example of diplomacy between our two countries,” Bambawale said.
At present both countries are having “a lot of dialogue” at the political level and also at the economic level, the Indian envoy said as he welcomed Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent comments that Indian elephant and Chinese dragon must not fight but dance together.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is planned to visit China in June to take part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.
(With inputs from PTI)