NEW DELHI: In the midst of the continuing standoff over the tri-junction with Bhutan, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj Thursday told Parliament that if China unilaterally changes the status quo on the issue then it poses a challenge to India’s security.
Swaraj asserted that India is ready for talks with China provided both the armies pull back from Doka La, the point where they are in a face-off situation for over a month now. “We are saying that the matter can be resolved through talks, but both sides have to first take back their armies,” Swaraj told the Upper House.
India’s emphasis on both the armies pulling back from the area of standoff in Sikkim comes after Chinese articulation that the Indian army must withdraw before any meaningful dialogue on resolving the issue.
Answering supplementary questions during the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, Swaraj said, “Their (China’s) intention was to reach the tri-junction so that they can unilaterally end the status of the tri-junction. It was only then that India came into the picture. If China unilaterally changes the tri-junction point, then India’s security is challenged.” She further said Bhutan has protested in writing to China on the issue.
To further buttress India’s case, the minister referred to the written agreement between India, China and Bhutan entered into in 2012 that the three nations will together decide on the boundaries at the tri-junction point.
Swaraj also informed the House that China has in the past constructed temporary roads but this time the Chinese brought in bulldozers and excavators. She further stressed that India was not “unreasonable” on the Doka La row and that all nations were backing it on the issue as they have realised that China is getting aggressive with Bhutan.
“All countries are supporting us and they understand that the stand taken by India on the issue is not wrong. India’s position is not wrong on the tri-junction and all nations are with it. The law is with our country and all realise this,” she added.
Separately, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said that India has been in “close contact” with the Bhutan government on the border issue.
India and China are committed to a “fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution” to the boundary dispute through dialogue and peaceful negotiation, the government said in the Rajya Sabha. In a written response to a question, V K Singh, Union minister for state in the Ministry of External Affairs, said China and India have each agreed to appoint a Special Representative (SR) to explore the framework for a boundary settlement from a political perspective. There have been SR 19 meetings so far, the last one being in Beijing in April 2016, Singh informed.
PM Narendra Modi had met President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in June in Astana.