China Blames India for Misleading Its Citizens Over Sikkim Standoff

Posted July 07, 2017

"His pre-planned bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Summit are with Argentina, Canada, Italy, Japan, Mexico, ROK (Republic of Korea), the United Kingdom and Vietnam", External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said when asked about prime minister Modi's schedule in Hamburg.

India's position is that since there was no plan for a Modi-Xi meeting on the sidelines of the summit, the question of whether the atmosphere is or isn't right is entirely moot. However, the Chinese envoy to India Luo Zhaohui on Tuesday ruled out a compromise in the military standoff with India while putting the onus on New Delhi to resolve the grave situation.

Former Indian ambassador to Beijing C.V. Ranganathan said that Doklam is a strategically important area that can provide access to the vital Siliguri corridor - also known as the "Chicken Neck" - that connects India's northeast with the rest of the country. Bhutan requested assistance from longtime ally India, who also sent forces into the disputed region, which were involved in a series of minor incidents with Chinese troops.

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Chinese state media on Thursday warned New Delhi to stop "bullying" tiny Himalayan countries and that if it doesn't, it may start supporting Sikkim's "pro-independence appeals".

The statement comes amid a lengthy standoff between the armies of the two countries on Line of Actual control adjoining Sikkim on India's eastern border.

"As for the arrangement of the bilateral meeting (at G20) between President Xi and Prime Minister Modi, I have to point out that recently Indian troops trespassed into China and obstructed normal activities of Chinese troops in Doklam region", said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang.

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The latest dispute flared up in June after Chinese teams began building a road on territory also claimed by Bhutan. China denies there was any territorial dispute with Bhutan, but Bhutan has rebutted China's claim and protested China's action and sought India's help.

Despite rising stridency in Chinese demands that India pull back from the confrontation near the Sikkim-Tibet-Bhutan tri-junction, Indian troops are digging in to protect the strategic topography that is just 30 km from a hydel project and overlooks the Bengal-Assam road link.

"We have said many times that the illegal entry of Indian border troops at the defined section and mutually recognised boundary is different in nature from previous frictions at the undefined part of the boundary", Geng said.

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Even as the tone of the Chinese embassy's video was relatively even, the state-run tabloid Global Times continued to publish provocative editorials. "India and China's relationship has been on a downward trend recently and this in fact is yet another example". With matters grinding to a stalemate and India holding its ground and comments, the stage could be set for more serious diplomatic engagement.