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By Our Correspondent: Concerns over the ongoing stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops near Sikkim have given way to warnings and threats. Beijing has gone on the offensive, threatening India of dire consequences if the tension is not diffused but New Delhi has held its position to give diplomacy a chance in resolving the deadlock. The latest warning was issued by Chinese envoy to India Luo Zhaohui who told Press Trust of India that the situation in the Doklam plateau is “grave” and the ball is in India’s court to end the deadlock. China wants Indian soldiers to leave Doklam plateau, a pastureland which is at the centre of the ongoing confrontation. A Chinese construction party was building a road in the Doklam plateau when on June 16 Bhutanese soldiers objected to the activity in the area. The region is claimed by Bhutan to be its territory. Indian soldiers present in the area intervened on Bhutan’s request and prevented the Chinese from carrying out construction activities. Bhutan also registered its protest with the Chinese embassy in New Delhi. Since then, Indian soldiers have been holding position in Doklam, much to the discomfort of China which claimed that the region is its territory and does not belong to Bhutan or any other country. India has made it known that the construction activity by China had severe security implications and it can be allowed to go on. India further said that as per the 2012 border understanding, Beijing cannot alter the boundary points of the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan close to the Sikkim corridor. By constructing the road, China was seen as altering the status quo in the sensitive tri-junction overlooking the Chumbi valley, a narrow stretch that juts out of Tibet stretching till the Siliguri corridor. It has Sikkim and Bhutan on its either flanks. Reports in the Chinese media had suggested that if India does not pull out of Doklam plateau, it might lead to war. “There has been talk about this option, that option. It is up to your government policy,” the Chinese envoy was quoted as saying by PTI. The envoy, however, added that China wanted a peaceful resolution but withdrawal of Indian troops was a pre-condition. “The first priority is that the Indian troops unconditionally pull back to the Indian side of the boundary. That is the precondition for any meaningful dialogue between China and India,” he said. “The situation is grave and made me deeply worried. It is the first time that Indian troops have crossed the mutually recognised boundary and trespassed into Chinas territory, triggering a close range face off between Chinese and Indian border troops. Now 19 days have passed, but the situation still has not eased,” Luo was quoted as saying by PTI. The envoy also objected to India meddling in the China-Bhutan boundary talks. Unlike in past stand-offs that were largely the result of Chinese troops entering the Indian territory, the situation is different this time around. India has helped Bhutan to assert its territorial rights and in the process sent a strong message to China. Despite major differences between India and China over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, there are several possible flash points across the Line of Actual control which results in patrol clashes. But the situation has never gone out of hand and not a single bullet has been fired in years. The two sides have established mechanisms to deal with border face-offs and they have been settled amicably in the past. But China has set preconditions for the resolution of the present stand-off. For its part, India has reacted with caution and refrained from making provocative statements. Earlier, Reuters reported: China has accused Indian border guards of crossing into its territory from Sikkim, located on the northeastern border with Tibet, the Chinese foreign and defence ministries have said, complicating an already difficult relationship. Geng Shuang, a spokesman with China’s foreign ministry, said Indian guards “obstructed normal activities” by Chinese forces on the border and called on India to withdraw immediately, according to a ministry statement late on Monday. He urged India to respect China’s territorial integrity and the border treaties signed by the two countries. He further said China had already suspended official pilgrimages at the Nathu La Pass, which lies on the frontier between Sikkim and Tibet. A spokesman for the Indian Army declined to comment but said the army would issue a statement on Tuesday. The defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nathu La connects India to Hindu and Buddhist sites in the region and was the site of a fierce border clash between Chinese and Indian troops in 1967. China’s defence ministry said in a separate statement India’s military had obstructed work on a road, a move it described as seriously threatening peace on the border. “China is dedicated to developing bilateral relations, and will staunchly defend its legitimate rights,” it said. “China hopes India will meet it halfway, not do anything to complicate the border issues and jointly maintain the good momentum of relations,” the defence ministry said. Ties between China and India have long been frosty as a result of long-term territorial disputes, as well as Beijing’s support of Pakistan, and Indian leaders declined to attend China’s “Belt and Road” summit aimed at boosting regional economic and political ties last month. Chinese president Xi Jinping told prime minister Narendra Modi earlier this month that the two countries should work to “appropriately” manage their differences.
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