New Delhi: A controversy was triggered on Thursday after US Congresswoman Anne Wagner was quoted as remarking that China had quietly resumed its activities in Doklam and that neither India nor Bhutan had dissuaded it from doing so.
The controversy further snowballed after certain media reports from Washington attributed the remarks to a “US official”, prompting New Delhi to clarify that the remark had not been made by any US official. Ms Wagner had apparently made the controversial remark during a Congressional hearing and in a question to the US State Department’s principal deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asia, Alice G. Wells.
New Delhi also said the “status quo” continued to prevail at the site in Doklam — in Bhutanese territory from where the armies of India and China had withdrawn their troops last year, thus ending the more than two-month-long military face-off. Both India and Bhutan consider Doklam to be Bhutanese territory while China claims it as its own and calls it Donglang.
MsWagner had apparently remarked in a question, “Although both countries back down, China has quietly resumed its activities in Doklam and neither Bhutan nor India has sought to dissuade it. China’s activities in the Himalayas remind me of its South China Sea policies. How should our failure to respond to the militarisation of the South China Sea inform the international response to these Himalayan border disputes?” The ministry of external affairs (MEA) on Thursday said, “The press reports attributing remarks on Doklam to a US official are incorrect. The reference to Doklam was made in the form of a question posed to the senior State Department official Alice G. Wells.
Ms Wells, in her reply, made no reference to the situation in Doklam and said that India is vigorously defending its northern borders and this is a subject of concern to India. I would reiterate that since the disengagement of Indian and Chinese border personnel in the Doklam area on 28 August 2017, there have been no new developments at the face-off site and its vicinity. The status quo prevails in this area.”