Upping the ante on the Sikkim standoff, China today accused India of “trampling” on the Panchsheel principles and asked New Delhi to “correct its mistakes” as soon as possible by pulling back troops. China also claimed that India was “misleading the public” by saying that Chinese troops are building a road close to the Chicken’s Neck in the Sikkim sector which could endanger India’s access to its north-eastern states. “I want to point that the relevant actions by the Indian side violated the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in defiance of the international law and international norms. As we all know in 1950s China, India and Myanmar proposed the five principles (Panchsheel) of co-existence,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Gen Shuang told reporters here.
“However to the surprise of everyone, the Indian side trampled on the basic norms governing the international relations proposed by itself by illegally crossing into other country’s territory,” he said. The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, known as the Panchsheel, are a series of principles which have formed the bedrock of the relationship between India and China. Their first formal codification in treaty form was in an agreement between China and India in 1954.
Geng said this time the Indian troops crossed the delineated boundary into the Chinese side and nature of the incident was “very serious”. “China and India have been in contact through the special representatives mechanism to solve the boundary question but this incident, I believe, violates the spirit upheld by the Special Representatives mechanism and goes in contrast to the efforts made by the two countries,” he said.
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China has already lodged a protest with India on this, Geng said. “Indian border troops are still staying on the Chinese territory,” he said. The situation is yet to be resolved and “India should pull back the troops that is precondition to avoid worsening of the situation”, Geng said. “Troops should be pulled back as soon as possible to demonstrate the sincerity to improve bilateral ties so as create conditions for the normal development of bilateral relations,” he said.
“If the Indian side refuses to correct its mistakes in a timely fashion, how it proposes to win the trust of its neighbours and how it is supposed to play a bigger role in the international affairs,” he said. “We once again urge the Indian side to abide by the boundary convention and respect the Chinese sovereignty and immediately withdraw the border troops and properly deal with the incident in a timely fashion,” Geng said.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson claimed that the incident has nothing to do with the tri-junction between China, India and Bhutan. “In disregard of the 1890 Sino-Britain convention, the Indian side said that Doklam is located within the tri- junction of the three countries, that is misleading the public,” he said. “The 1890 convention said that the Sikkim section of the boundary commences from East mountain and the incident (of road building) took place about 2,000 meters away from Mount Gipmochi,” Geng asserted.
The Indian side is actually misleading the public by saying that the incident took place at the tri-junction point, Geng said, defending China’s road building which India and Bhutan have objected to. India has expressed concern over the road building, apprehending that it may allow Chinese troops to cut India’s access to its northeastern states. Geng also said that besides former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru endorsing the 1890 Sino-British convention on Sikkim in a letter to his Chinese counterpart Zhou Enlai in 1959, the Indian Embassy in a note to the Chinese government in February, 1960, also endorsed it.
“The note said that the boundary between Sikkim and China’s Tibet has already been delineated and there is no dispute about that in the map and in practice,” he said. Quoting the note, Geng said, “The Indian government would like to add one more thing that the boundary has already been demarcated as well on the ground.” “The above mentioned was written in black and white in the note from India,” Geng said.
Asked about Nehru, in his letter to Zhou, pointing out that Chinese maps showed Bhutanese territory as part of Chin, Geng said, “there is no such consent as you mentioned”. The former prime minister had pointed out to China that it was claiming sizable part of Bhutan’s territory. “It is not clear to us what exactly is the implication of your statement that the boundaries of Sikkim and Bhutan do not fall within the scope of the present discussion,” Nehru wrote in the letter to Zhou.
“In fact, Chinese maps show sizable areas of Bhutan as part of Tibet,” Nehru had said. Geng said, “Since the illegal trespass of the border troops, both sides have expressed stern position. The fact is that the Sikkim section of the China India boundary has already been delineated.” Since India’s independence, the Indian government has repeatedly affirmed the fact that the Sikkim section has been delineated by this convention, he said.
Geng’s remarks come a day after, in unusually blunt remarks, China’s Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui said “the ball is in India’s court” and it was for the Indian government to decide what options could be on the table to resolve the standoff. Asked about remarks by official Chinese media and think- tanks that the conflict can lead to a “war” if not handled properly, the ambassador had said ,”There has been talk about this option, that option. It is up to your government policy (whether to exercise military option).”
Asked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments that not a bullet has been fired at the India-China boundary for two decades, Geng said, “I want to point settlement of the boundary serves the fundamental interests of the two sides.” “It is also a strategic target, two sides are working to achieve. We have been trying to explore ways to resolve the boundary question with in the Special Representatives mechanism and we have jointly taken measure to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” Geng said. “What is shocking is that the India border troops entered into the Chinese side of the delineated border in the Sikkim section which is serious in nature,” he sad.