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Dokalam standoff shows the latest Chinese ploy is nothing more than a bundle of lies

By Kanwal Sibal China is wallowing in its own mendacious propaganda on the Dokalam stand-off. Its claim about informing our local military personnel in advance about road building on its “sovereign territory” (why would they do that?) but receiving no response is deceitful. They claim goodwill as motive, contrary to China’s enduring ill-will towards India on border differences. The Chinese ploy was to be able to tell Bhutan that India had raised no objection and forestall any Bhutanese resistance. Actually, India refused any discussion on this non-agenda item and referred it to the Bhutanese. The Bhutanese soldiers who had tried to stop Chinese road building were unceremoniously escorted back to their camp. India is reluctant to publicise the evidence as it would embarrass Bhutan. China’s contention that India has entered its territory in Dokalam is bogus as this area has figured in the 24 rounds of China-Bhutan talks so far on border differences. For India, the plateau is Bhutanese territory claimed by China, just as, by virtue of its occupation of Tibet, China claims Indian territory. India has entered Bhutanese territory under existing bilateral security agreements. Bhutan’s silence on the standoff since its June statement is being exploited by China to sow doubts about the depth of Bhutan’s support for India’s action. India is not falling into China’s trap by pushing Bhutan to be more vocal, as that would signal loss of confidence. India is acting in close coordination with Bhutan. China obfuscates the Dokalam issue by suddenly finding great virtue in colonial era unequal treaties which it rejects as in the case of the McMahon Line, for instance. It now argues that the 1890 British India-China treaty on the Tibet-Sikkim border extends to Bhutan too, even though neither Sikkim nor Bhutan were a party. China is distorting the content of Nehru’s 1959 letter to Chou En Lai which, while accepting that the Sikkim-Tibet boundary had been settled, refers to the unsettled tri-junction with Bhutan. China refers selectively to the 2006 talks between the Special Representatives (SRs) and omits mentioning the 2012 pact between SRs that the tri-junction would be settled in negotiations with third country involvement (Bhutan) and until then the status quo will be maintained. China’s hegemonic ambitions fuelled by its economic power and growing military strength resemble those of Germany and Japan in the 30s. The People’s Liberation Army is becoming adventurist in conduct and could act rashly at the local level. India, which is taking necessary precautions on our border, will not allow the Chinese to reach the Jhamperi ridge in Bhutan by crossing the Torsa Nala, the area of the current stand-off. China has briefed other countries on India’s violation of its “territorial sovereignty”, but has not obtained the response it expected. India seems to have done diplomatic briefings quietly, without seeking public support for its position to avoid complications. India prefers to solve the confrontation bilaterally as in previous faceoffs, lest the entire structure of border management that exists collapses. China has done lasting damage to bilateral ties, as India will henceforth be exceedingly cautious about its intentions. China is alienating a billion plus Indians. (The author is former foreign secretary)
Source: ET

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