China blames India for the border standoff and calls on it to withdraw its troops. Wang Yi is the most senior Chinese official to comment on the month-long Himalayan border spat.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has blamed India for sparking a border standoff in the Himalayas by deploying its troops in Chinese territory and called on them to withdraw.
Wang is the most senior Chinese government official to comment on the tensions on the border near Bhutan as the stand-off enters its second month.
Wang said there was little dispute over the facts about what had happened on the border, weighing in on the worst border row between China and India in decades.
“The rights and wrongs are crystal clear and even senior Indian officials have openly stated that Chinese troops did not enter into the Indian boundary, which is to say, India has admitted it crossed into the Chinese territory,” Wang was quoted as saying in a foreign ministry statement published on Tuesday.
Wang also told reporters during an official trip to Thailand on Monday that the simple and straightforward way to solve the month-long border row was for India to “conscientiously” pull back its troops.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a press briefing on Monday that Beijing would protect its sovereignty on the border “at all costs” and warned India not to harbor any illusions about China’s resolve to defend itself.
Fears of a military conflict have been mounting as both sides have so far refused to back down.
The row broke out last month when a Chinese road construction project on the Doklam Plateau in Tibet, called the Donglang region by China, was halted by India.
Bhutan, which does not have diplomatic ties with China, also claims the border area.
Beijing has repeatedly said any talks to solve the standoff were only likely if India first withdraws its troops.
China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported last week that Chinese troops had taken part in a military exercise using live ammunition on the Tibetan plateau.
Ma Jiali, a research fellow specializing in India-China studies at the China Reform Forum think tank, said Wang’s rhetoric had also stressed common ground between China and India. This indicated Beijing remained hopeful of solving the standoff through a “mild way” rather than seeking a military escalation.
“China has made some military preparations, including conducting a military exercise in Tibet in case a conflict broke out, and it would not be a good thing for India if the situation went that far,” said Ma.
India’s National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval, is in Beijing later this week for a security officials meeting between the BRICS countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
He will meet Chinese State Councillor, Yang Jiechi, and there are hopes the two men will discuss the border standoff.
China’s foreign ministry said on Monday that Beijing would make no compromises on the border issue and did not confirm if the issue would be discussed at the meeting.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met briefly on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany earlier this month, but neither Beijing nor New Delhi confirmed if the border issue was raised.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post