China on Monday reiterated its position that Doklam was part of its territory, but stressed that with the military standoff in the area behind them, Beijing was looking forward to a new round of engagement with New Delhi.
In response to a question on remarks by India’s Ambassador to China, Gautam Bambawale, in an interview with the South China Morning Post, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying said that, “Last year thanks to our concerted efforts, our diplomatic efforts, and wisdom we properly resolved this [Doklam] issue.”
Her remarks were in tune with comments by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who said during his annual press conference on March 8 that Indian and Chinese leaders had demonstrated “strategic vision” in tackling the Doklam crisis.
In her Monday briefing, Ms. Hua underscored that both countries had “every reason to be each other’s partners, “riding on “similar national conditions, development goals as well as common interests.”
“So we would like to work with India to enhance political trust and mutually beneficial cooperation under the guidance of two leaders to achieve the common development.”
In remarks addressing Mr. Bambawale’s observation during his interview that China had changed the status quo, leading to the military standoff in Doklam, Ms. Hua said: “China is committed to maintaining peace stability and tranquility there and Donglang [Doklam] belongs to China as we have historical conventions. So China’s activity there is within its sovereign rights. There is no such thing as changing the status quo.”
Mr. Bambawale had highlighted that there was no change at the “face-off site,” from where troops had disengaged last summer after a 73-day standoff. The Ambassador said that “in Doklam 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.”
He added: “Maybe, behind, the Chinese may be putting more military barracks to put in more soldiers, but that is well behind the sensitive area. 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.”
Modi’s greeting call to Xi
Highly-placed official sources earlier told The Hindu that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s telephone call to Chinese President Xi Jinping after his election for a second term earlier this month is part of the “Xiamen process” to repair post-Doklam ties.
“It would be correct to call the energetic efforts to re-rail ties between India and China as the ‘Xiamen process.’ After all it was on the sidelines of the Xiamen BRICS summit that Prime Minister Modi and President Xi decided to give a firm direction on re-building post-Doklam ties,” the sources observed.
The sources said the call by the Prime Minister has set the tone for his meeting with Mr. Xi at Qingdao — the venue of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in June. No other “informal” meeting between the two leaders is planned so far, ahead of the SCO conclave. It is anticipated that the Qingdao meeting will further “change the narrative for the better,” and set the stage for a bilateral summit, possibly later in the year.