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THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 6 AUGUST, 2017

Way Out of Doklam Is To Let Bhutan Handle It with China: Karat

THE CITIZEN BUREAU


NEW DELHI: “India must seriously consider ways to diffusethe situation with China And the key lies in our accepting that this issue is between Bhutan and China and leave it to the Bhutanese to handle it,” said former general secretary CPI(M) Prakash Karat.

In an interview to The Citizen on the India-China face off in Doklam, Karat said that New Dehi does not seem to be understanding the seriousness of the Chinese intentions. He said that China had spelt this out clearly in its official document and made it clear that India has no jurisdiction in its view at all. Beijing has repeatedly urged New Delhi to withdraw its troops from Doklam, and made it clear that any negotiations can only follow, and not precede this. (http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/NewsDetail/index/6/11386/July-End-When-NSA-Visited-Beijing-India-Left-Only-40-of-400-Soldiers-In-Doklam-Says-China)

Karat said that the government was downplaying the issue, and it does seem as if some (China claims only 40 of the 400 Indian soldiers now remain) troops have been withdrawn. But clearly this is not enough for Beijing to climb down and the best way out of this impasse would be for India to move out and allow Bhutan to step in and negotiate directly with the Chinese about the construction of the road and related issues.

Bhutan currenty is absent from the picture, having reacted to the Chinese construction of the road several days after it had started, under Indian pressure. Since the two month face-off in which relations between Beijing and New Delhi have dipped alarmingly Bhutan has remained silent with not a word on the issue that has its two big neighbours almost at war.

Karat was critical of the ‘confused approach’ of the Modi government regarding bilateral relations with China and neighbouring countries. He said it was unfortunate that the initiatives Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken initially with China had petered out. Indian foreign policy, he added, is in complete disarray, even more so with regard to the neighbourhood.

He said that the pro-US tilt had been further accentuated under this government with the strategic agreements reached during the visit of then US President Barack Obama to India--Pivot to Asia--being the most “explicit declaration” of the decisive shift towards the US. the Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had started with some initiatives

Asked about the latest Chinese threat of military action in two weeks, Karat said that while China might not move into a military conflict as soon as that, it would certainly take measures in other spheres such as economic trade, against India.

Meanwhile Chinese official media is keeping up the offensive, with China spending these days briefing other missions. Its embassy in India briefed the Nepal counterparts a day ago. It is not clear whether India has taken other governments into confidence, except perhaps for the Americans. China is issuing statements on a daily basis and as a former Indian diplomat pointed out, agreeing with Karat, that this is well out of the realm of rhetoric. And that the statements indicate a seriousness that India would be well advised not to ignore.

The Global Times has expressed “shock” at what it claimed is India’s “recklessness” in a commentary titled “Modi must not pull India into recless conflict.” And goes on to state, “India is concerned that the road China was building in Doklam might threaten the security of the Siliguri Corridor, but does that justify Indian troops' incursion into another country in utter disregard of international treaties?

India is publicly challenging a country that is far superior in strength. India's recklessness has shocked Chinese. Maybe its regional hegemonism in South Asia and the Western media comments have blinded New Delhi into believing that it can treat a giant to its north in the way it bullies other South Asian countries.

Over the past month, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been on the move. We believe that the PLA has made sufficient preparation for military confrontation.

It is a war with an obvious result. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be aware of the PLA's overwhelming firepower and logistics. Indian border troops are no rival to PLA field forces. If a war spreads, the PLA is perfectly capable of annihilating all Indian troops in the border region.

So why hasn't the PLA started? China cherishes the decade-long peace on the border and wishes not to break it. We want to give peace a chance and allow India to recognize the grave consequences.

The Modi government's hard-line stance is sustained by neither laws nor strength. This administration is recklessly breaking international norms and jeopardizing India's national pride and peaceful development.”

Xinhua in a long commentary has raised and answered the following questions:

What happened on June 18?

On June 16, the Chinese side was building a road in the Dong Lang area (Doklam), located in Yadong county of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.On June 18, over 270 Indian border troops, carrying weapons and driving two bulldozers, crossed the boundary in the Sikkim Sector and advanced more than 100 meters into Chinese territory to obstruct the road building of the Chinese side, causing tension in the area.

The trespassing Indian troops, reaching as many as 400 people at one point, put up three tents and advanced over 180 meters into Chinese territory. As of the end of July, there were still over 40 Indian border troops and one bulldozer illegally staying in Chinese territory.

Does the Dong Lang area belong to China?

Yes.

The main focus of the dispute is the Dong Lang area.

In 1890, China and Britain signed the Convention Between Great Britain and China Relating to Sikkim and Tibet. Article I of the Convention stipulates that "The boundary of Sikkim and Tibet shall be the crest of the mountain range separating the waters flowing into the Sikkim Teesta and its affluents from the waters flowing into the Tibetan Mochu and northwards into other Rivers of Tibet. The line commences at Mount Gipmochi (currently known as Mount Ji Mu Ma Zhen) on the Bhutan frontier, and follows the above-mentioned water-parting to the point where it meets Nipal territory."

According to the Convention, the Dong Lang area, which is located on the Chinese side of the China-India boundary, is indisputably Chinese territory.

The stability and inviolability of boundaries are a fundamental principle enshrined in international law. The China-India boundary in the Sikkim Sector as delimited by the 1890 Convention has been continuously valid and repeatedly reaffirmed by both the Chinese and Indian sides. Either side shall strictly abide by the boundary which shall not be violated.

Is Bhutan involved in the incident?

No.

The 1890 Convention has made it clear that the China-India boundary in the Sikkim Sector commences at Mount Ji Mu Ma Zhen on the Bhutan frontier. Mount Ji Mu Ma Zhen is the eastern starting point of the China-India boundary in the Sikkim Sector and it is also the boundary tri-junction between China, India and Bhutan.

The Indian troops' trespassing occurred at a place on the China-India boundary in the Sikkim Sector, more than 2,000 meters away from Mount Ji Mu Ma Zhen. Matters concerning the boundary tri-junction have nothing to do with this incident. China and Bhutan have been engaged in negotiations and consultations to resolve their boundary issue since the 1980s. Although the boundary is yet to be formally delimited, the two sides have had 24 rounds of talks, conducted joint surveys in their border area and have reached basic consensus on the actual state of the border area and the alignment of their boundary.

What are the consequences of India's illegally crossing the China-India border?

According to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly Resolution 3314 adopted on Dec. 14, 1974, no consideration of whatsoever nature, whether political, economic, military or otherwise, may serve as a justification for the invasion or attack by the armed forces of a State of the territory of another State.

To cross a delimited boundary and enter the territory of a neighboring country on the grounds of so-called "security concerns," for whatever activities, runs counter to the basic principles of international law and basic norms governing international relations.

As a third party, India has no right to interfere in or impede the boundary talks between China and Bhutan, nor does it have the right to make territorial claims on Bhutan's behalf. India's intrusion into Chinese territory under the pretext of Bhutan has not only violated China's territorial sovereignty, but also challenged Bhutan's sovereignty and independence.

The Chinese government urges the Indian government to immediately withdraw its trespassing border troops back to the Indian side of the boundary and conduct a thorough investigation into the illegal trespassing so as to swiftly and appropriately resolve the incident and restore peace and tranquility to the border area between the two countries.

(Cover Photograph File of China Bhutan borders)

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