The Chinese foreign office warned India to not test China over its patience on the Sikkim conflict. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang in a press release yesterday asked India to work towards peace rather than using ‘peace’ as a mere term on the tip of its tongue. He further argued that if India is serious about peace, it should pull back its troops from the illegal crossing. Below is the press release in full, posted on the Chinese FO website:
Q: Yesterday China released The Facts and China’s Position Concerning the Indian Border Troops’ Crossing of the China-India Boundary in the Sikkim Sector into the Chinese Territory. The document mentioned that on June 16, the Chinese side was building a road in the Dong Lang area and had notified the Indian side in advance. What was the purpose of the road building? What were the details of the notification and what was India’s response?
A: On June 16, the Chinese side was building a road in the Dong Lang area which is located on the Chinese side of the Sikkim Sector of the China-India boundary. This was aimed at improving the local transportation and facilitating local herdsmen’s grazing of livestock and border troops’ patrolling. It is normal activity of China in its own territory which is completely lawful and legitimate.
China had notified the Indian side in advance out of goodwill through border meeting mechanism on May 18 and June 8 respectively and the Indian side didn’t make any response. On June 18, over 270 Indian border troops, carrying weapons and driving two bulldozers, flagrantly crossed the boundary in the Sikkim Sector at the Duo Ka La (Doka La) pass and advanced more than 100 meters into the Chinese territory to obstruct the road building of the Chinese side.
As of August 2, there were still 48 Indian border troops and one bulldozer illegally staying in the Chinese territory. In addition, there are still a large number of Indian armed forces congregating on the boundary and on the Indian side of the boundary.
The Dong Lang area is located on the Chinese side of the boundary delimited by the 1890 Convention Between Great Britain and China Relating to Sikkim and Tibet. The Indian border troops entered the Chinese territory from the Indian side of the boundary. India’s illegal trespass is a clear and undeniable fact. In disregard of the existing mechanisms and channels between the two sides and with no efforts made to communicate with the Chinese side, the Indian side flagrantly dispatched its border troops carrying weapons and equipment to enter the Chinese territory across the boundary and refused to withdraw. The action of the Indian side amounts to that of irresponsibility and recklessness. No matter how many Indian border troops illegally trespassed the boundary and still stay in the Chinese territory, it will not alter the nature of severely violating China’s territorial integrity and contravening the UN Charter. This incident is illegal under the international law. The Indian side should bear corresponding responsibilities.
Q: In response to China’s position paper released on August 2, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that the peace and tranquility of the India-China boundary constitutes the important prerequisite for the smooth development of bilateral relations. What is your comment on that?
A: The Indian side is always keeping “peace” on the tip of its tongue. But we should not only listen to its words but also heed its deeds. The Chinese side maintains that relevant facts cannot be ignored. Firstly, out of goodwill, China had notified the Indian side in advance through border meeting mechanism on May 18 and June 8 respectively. However, the Indian side didn’t make any response to the Chinese side through any channel for over one month. Instead, it flagrantly dispatched armed forces carrying equipment to illegally cross the boundary to obstruct China’s road building. This is by no means for peace.
Secondly, over one month has passed since the outbreak of the incident. The Indian border troops still illegally stay in the Chinese territory. Moreover, the Indian side is building roads, hoarding supplies and deploying a large number of armed forces on the Indian side of the boundary. This is by no means for peace.
Thirdly, the fact that the Indian border troops illegally trespassed the boundary is irrefutable. Under such circumstances, instead of deeply reflecting on its mistakes, the Indian side fabricated such sheer fallacies as the so-called “security concerns”, the “issue of tri-junction” and “at the request of Bhutan” as excuses to justify its wrongdoing. This is by no means for peace.
Fourthly, the Chinese side has made serious representations with the Indian side through diplomatic channels for multiple times. Under such circumstances, the Indian side, rather than withdraw its trespassing troops and equipment, made unreasonable demands to China which demonstrated its lack of sincerity for resolving the incident. This is by no means for peace.
If the Indian side truly cherishes peace, what it should do is to immediately pull back the trespassing border troops to the Indian side of the boundary.