No Troop Reduction By India At Doklam, Say Sources, Rebutting China's Claim

Following the Doklam stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops, New Delhi has made it clear to Beijing that the construction of roads in the area had a direct bearing on India's key strategic concerns.

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No Troop Reduction By India At Doklam, Say Sources, Rebutting China's Claim

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The Doklam stand-off has been on since June.

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. There were approximately 400 soldiers deployed by each side: India
  2. Beijing accused India of sending troops to what it says is its territory
  3. Indian and Chinese soldiers have been locked in a standoff since June
There has been no reduction in Indian troop number in the disputed Doklam Plateau to the east of Sikkim, where Indian and Chinese soldiers have been involved in a standoff since June 18.  

In a document released to the media, the Chinese government claimed that 270 armed Indian soldiers crossed into the plateau which China considers its own on June 16, advancing more than 100 metres to obstruct Chinese road building activities in the region. However, "as of the end of July, there were still over 40 Indian border troops and one bulldozer illegally staying in Chinese territory."  

Indian sources have, however, told NDTV that there were approximately 400 soldiers deployed by each side.

New Delhi and Beijing have differing interpretations of where the boundary between India, Bhutan and China is demarcated in this area.

In a statement last month, the External Affairs Ministry had said: "The two governments had in 2012 reached agreement that the tri-junction boundary points between India, China and third countries will be finalised in consultation with the concerned countries. Any attempt, therefore, to unilaterally determine tri-junction points is in violation of this understanding."  

China, on the other hand, says the 1890 Convention Between Great Britain and China Relating to Sikkim and Tibet made it clear that "the Dong Lang (Doklam) area, which is located on the Chinese side of the boundary, is indisputably Chinese territory."  

The document released today also attempts to drive a wedge in the extremely close relationship between India and Bhutan. The Chinese document says: "As a third party, India has no right to interfere in or impede the boundary talks between China and Bhutan, still less the right to make territorial claims on Bhutan's behalf. India's intrusion into the Chinese territory under the pretext of Bhutan has not only violated China's territorial sovereignty but also challenged Bhutan's sovereignty and independence."

There is no mention, however, of the fact that New Delhi and Bhutan have been working very closely to resolve the standoff.  According to the External Affairs Ministry, Indian soldiers in the general area of Doka La had acted in coordination with Bhutanese personnel when the initial standoff occurred and had not acted unilaterally in preventing Chinese road construction.

India has also made it clear to China that the construction of roads in the Doklam area had a direct bearing on India's key strategic concerns.  The road, India says, was being built on an area very close to the "chicken's neck," the sliver of land that links mainland India to the seven north-eastern states.  

Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj has said both sides should pull back soldiers and engage in talks, but China has been adamant, making complete troop withdrawal by India a pre-condition for talks. But indicating back-channel talks are on, a top source in the Chinese government told NDTV that they were ''optimistic about an early resolution of the border standoff...  both sides are talking''.  

Last week, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval visited China for a summit of BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa. On its sidelines, he had held a meeting with Chinese state councilor Yang Jiechi - the two are Special Representatives of the boundary talks between the two nations. But there has been no information on whether the Doklam stand-off was discussed.

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