‘Don’t change status quo on border to avert another Dokalam’
Beijing, Mar 24 :Any change of status quo along the India-China border may lead to another Dokalam-like crisis, India’s envoy here has cautioned even as he asserted there was “no change” at the standoff site even though the PLA may be reinforcing its troops “well behind the sensitive area”.
Gautam Bambawale said though “no change” has taken place in the standoff site at Dokalam after it was resolved last year, he squarely blamed China for the crisis saying it happened because Beijing tried to alter the “status quo” which it should not have.
“No, I can tell you that you in Dokalam area, which we call close proximity or sometimes the face-off site, the area where there was close confrontation or close proximity between Indian and Chinese military troops, that there is no change taking place today,” Bambawale said reacting to reports of the Chinese military stepping up infrastructure build-up in the area.
“Maybe behind, the Chinese may be putting more military barracks to put in more soldiers, but that is well behind the sensitive area,” he said in a wide-ranging interview to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
“Those are the things you’re free to do and we are also free to do, because you’re doing it inside your territory and we are doing it inside our territory,” he said.
Recent reports said the Chinese military is trying to work around or outflank Indian troops in the Dokalam area.
“If anyone changes the status quo, it will lead to a situation like what happened in Dokalam. I can tell you very frankly and you can quote me on this. The Chinese military changed the status quo in the Dokalam area and therefore India reacted to it. Ours was a reaction to the change in the status quo by the Chinese military,” he said, adding that China should inform India about such initiatives in sensitive areas.
He called for delineation of the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) which China has refused earlier.
He said at present both countries are having “a lot of dialogue” especially at the political level, and also at the economic level, as he welcomed Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent comments that the Indian elephant and the Chinese dragon must not fight but dance together.
He also said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit China to take part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) in June during which there will “definitely” be a bilateral meeting between him and President Xi Jinping.
The summit is due to be held in the Chinese city of Qingdao from June 9-10.