Amid Sikkim standoff, China hints at Doval-Yang bilateral at BRICS NSAs meet


World, South Asia

The standoff between China and India in the Doklam area near the Bhutan tri-junction has dragged on for the past four weeks.

Doval is expected to visit Beijing on July 27 to attend the meeting of the NSAs. (Photo: PTI/File)

Beijing: Amid the Sikkim standoff, China on Monday hinted that a bilateral meeting between State Councillor Yang Jiechi and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval could take place on the sidelines of a BRICS NSAs meet here this week.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, during a briefing, left the door open for talks between Doval and Yang by saying that he cannot confirm it but in the past meetings of BRICS NSAs, the officials have held bilateral meetings.

Lus remarks came after Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian asserted that China will safeguard its security interests at "any cost" and asserted that India should not "harbour any unrealistic illusions".

"China will safeguard its security interests at any cost. India should not leave things to luck and not harbour any unrealistic illusions," he said ahead of the 90th anniversary of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA).

China maintained its hardline stance on the Sikkim standoff, even as Doval is set to travel to Beijing this week to attend the BRICS NSAs meeting scheduled to be held from July 27-28.

"I dont have relevant information you mentioned right now. As far as we know during the previous meetings, the host countries arranged for the heads of the delegations to hold bilateral meetings in which they exchanged views on bilateral relations, BRICS cooperation and multilateral affairs," Lu said when asked whether there would be a bilateral meeting between Yang and Doval.

Both Doval and Yang are Special Representatives of the two countries in the boundary talks.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay, while replaying to a question about Dovals schedule in Beijing, had last week said that if there are any further developments in his programme then the media will be informed.

Asked whether the Doklam standoff will figure in the BRICS NSAs meeting since the agenda included discussion on regional hotspot issues, Lu said, "China and India enjoy smooth diplomatic channels".

"The Indian border troops illegally crossed into Chinas territory. We once again urge India to pull back its troops to the Indian side of the boundary. I want to stress again that this is the precondition for any meaningful talks between the two sides," he said.

Lu also declined to comment on whether the BRICS NSAs would call on Chinese President Xi Jinping or Premier Li Keqiang, saying that he has no information on it.

The tradition of the previous BRICS NSA meetings has been that it was followed by a meeting with the top leaders of the host country.

In his briefing, Lu said Doklam standoff is like no other between India and China.

Reacting to the Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishops comment that territorial disputes between India and China should solved peacefully, Lu said the Australian leader is "correct".

"But this principle does not apply to the current standoff between China and India because Doklam region has no dispute. The Sikkim section is a defined boundary recognised and abided by both sides," he claimed.

Earlier, commenting on the over a month-long military standoff between the troops of the two countries at Doklam area in the Sikkim section, Wu urged India to "correct its mistake".

Stating that the PLA has taken emergency measures in the region and continues to increase focused deployments and drills, he said, "We strongly urge India to take practical steps to correct its mistake, cease provocations, and meet China halfway in jointly safeguarding the border regions peace and tranquillity."

Last week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had told Rajya Sabha that China intends to unilaterally change the status of the tri-junction with Bhutan, which poses a challenge to Indias security.

She had said there was a written agreement between India, China and Bhutan in 2012 that the three nations will together decide on the boundaries at the tri-junction point.

She also accused China of building roads using bulldozers and excavators, which has been protested by Bhutan in writing to China.

The standoff between China and India in the Doklam area near the Bhutan tri-junction has dragged on for the past four weeks. It started after a Chinese Armys construction party attempted to build a road.

Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam while China claims it as part of its Donglang region.

Of the 3,488-km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in the Sikkim section.

On the BRICS NSAs meeting, Lu said the meeting is the main platform for the BRICS countries to "discuss and conduct political and security cooperation".

"It will play an important role in strengthening strategic communication, increase political trust and elevate their influence in international affairs," he said