China hints Doval may meet its top diplomat amid border row

Gaurav Sharma   |  Beijing


China on Monday hinted that its top diplomat Yang Jiechi and Indian NSA Ajit Doval may hold a bilateral meeting this week on the sidelines of the BRICS NSA Summit even as it warned New Delhi to shed "illusory thinking" and immediately withdraw troops that Beijing says have crossed into Chinese territory.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said the People's Liberation Army (PLA) had "indomitable" will to defend China's territorial sovereignty at "all costs".

"Shaking a mountain is easy but shaking the PLA is hard. We would like to remind the Indian side to have no illusion," Wu told the media.

He said the military deployment and training in Tibet would be stepped up in the face of the dragging stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops at Doklam.

Wu said withdrawal of Indian troops was a precondition for any dialogue.

The Foreign Ministry echoed a similar view but hinted that Jiechi and Doval could meet on the sidelines of this BRICS security summit this week.

If they meet, the stand-off in Doklam will certainly come up for discussion.

Doval and China's State Councillor Yang are Special Representatives of the two countries on the boundary talks. There have been 19 rounds of talks on the disputed border.

Last week, India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said both India and China should withdraw their troops in order to start talks on the festering dispute.

However, China on Monday made clear India must pull back if wanted a dialogue. 

"India should immediately withdraw its troops to the Indian side of the boundary with China, which is a precondition and basis for resolving the conflict." the Defence Ministry spokesperson said.

A meeting between Doval and Jiechi did not seem a possibility until now in the view mounting tensions on the border.

Asked if the National Security Advisers of member countries will have bilateral meetings, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said there was a tradition of host countries arranging bilaterals between the head of the delegations at the summit.

"As far as we know, during the previous meetings, the host arranges the head of the delegations to hold bilateral meetings in which they exchange views on bilateral relations, BRICS cooperation, and multilateral affairs," Lu said.

The two-day meeting of BRICS NSAs will begin on July 27. "The meeting is the main platform to discuss the contact political and security cooperation," Lu said.

"Currently the global geo-political factors are complex and intertwined and regional hotspot issues are escalating."

Asked if the BRICS NSAs would call on Chinese President Xi Jinping, Lu declined to comment.

Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a dragging stand-off in Doklam, which is at a tri-junction of India, Bhutan and China. China calls Doklam its own territory but India and Bhutan say it is Bhutan's.

India stopped the Chinese Army from building a road in Doklam in June, leading to the face-off between New Delhi and Beijing. India has blamed China for trying to change the status of the tri-junction and wants the issue to be resolved diplomatically. - IANS