China on Monday (Jan 15) slammed comments by the Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat for calling Doklam a disputed territory. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said his "unconstructive" comments not helpful for maintaining peace at the borders.
Responding to Gen Rawat's comments, Lu Kang said his comments were against the consensus reached between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping at the BRICS summit last September to revive the ties and preserve peace on the border.
During last week's press conference, General Rawat had said that India needed to shift its military focus from its western border with Pakistan to its northern border with China. He had also observed that if China was strong, India was not weak either.
"During the past one year, relations between China and India witnessed some twists and turns," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in response to a question.
He underscored that in September, the leaders of India and China reached some important consensus on properly handling the differences and promote China-India relations.
"Recently, two sides enhanced dialogue on consultations, and bilateral relations have shown sound momentum of improvement and development," he said, in an obvious reference to the visit to India by the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and State Councilor and Politburo member Yang Jeichi.
"Under such background, the unconstructive remarks by the Indian senior officials not only go against the consensus reached by the two heads of state, and do not conform to the efforts made by the two sides to improve and develop bilateral relations." He added: "It cannot help to preserve tranquility and peace in the border areas."
Doklam border dispute
According to the Hindu newspaper, when asked to spell out any specific remark of Gen. Rawat that had irked China, Mr. Lu said: "I have made myself clear. If the senior official according to the report referred to Donglang (Doklam), I think you are clear about our position - Donglang belongs to China and has always been in the effective jurisdiction of China."
"The China border troops patrolling and stationed in the area are exercising our sovereignty rights. We hope the Indian side has learned the lessons of history and will avoid similar accidents to take place again," Mr. Lu observed.
He added: "If he refers to the situation in the whole India-China boundary, I have also said that last September the two heads of state have reached important consensus during the Xiamen summit. Both sides have maintained effective communication since then."
"The aim is to enhance strategic mutual trust and create enabling atmosphere for strategic communication. Recently the bilateral relations have shown positive momentum."
But the remarks of the Indian official "go against the consensus of the states and do not conform to the general trend of improvement of bilateral relations. We believe such kinds of remarks are not conducive to maintaining peace and tranquility in border areas."
He also reiterated China's stand that the Sikkim section of the India-China boundary has been delimited by the 1890 "historical convention" between the then British government and China, which Beijing claims settled the boundary in that particular section spanning to about 200 kms.
One of the primary demands of China is the settlement of the boundary in that particular section based on the treaty and that the two sides negotiated for a settlement for the rest of the LAC which spans about 3,488 kms. Both sides have a held a total of 20 rounds of border talks to resolve the issue.
"Donglang is China's territory. China will continue to exercise its sovereignty rights in accordance with the historical convention and steadfastly uphold its territorial sovereignty," Lu said.
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