Highlighting the Doklam standoff as its major achievement of international cooperation this year, the Chinese military today said India should “strictly control” its troops and implement border agreements to maintain peace and stability along the border. Chinese Defence Spokesman Col Ren Guoqiang said the highlights of his country’s international military cooperation in 2017 included handling ‘hotspot issues’ like Doklam. This year, under the unified deployment, the military has “resolutely” safeguarded China’s sovereignty and security interests, Col Ren told media here. The Chinese military has “played its due role in the handling of the hotspot issues such as the Sino-Indian confrontation in the Donglang (Doklam) area and safeguarded the China’s rights and interests in the South China Sea,” he said in response to a question.
The Doklam standoff began on June 16 after the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began building a road in area claimed by Bhutan. The Indian troops intervened to stop the road as it posed a security risk to Chicken Neck, the narrow corridor connecting India with its north-eastern states. The standoff ended on August 28 following a mutual agreement under which China stopped the construction of the road and India withdrew its troops. The 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control between India and China covers from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh. When asked how Chinese military view its relations with its Indian counterpart in 2018 in the backdrop of the Doklam standoff, Col Ren said India should implement the border agreements and control its troops. “We hope the Indian side can earnestly implement the relevant agreements reached between the two sides on the border issue and strictly control its border defence troops and do more for the positive development of China-India military-to-military relationship,” he said.
During the border talks, the first since the 73-day-long military standoff in Doklam, in Delhi on December 22 between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi, both sides stressed the importance of maintaining peace and stability along the border, Ren said. “As far as we know both sides have agreed that it is important to maintain peace stability along India-China border and create favourable conditions for further development of bilateral relationship, which has provided a good environment and good momentum for the continued enhancement of China and India relationship,” he said. In terms of China and India military-to-military relationship, it is important to have strategic communication and push forward healthy development of ties between the two militaries, Col Ren said. “We hope Indian side walk towards the same direction as the Chinese side and both sides can push forward the development of the relationship and jointly maintain the peace and stability along the China-India border which is in the interest of both sides,” he said.
About a recent incident in which an Indian drone crashed on the Chinese side in the Sikkim sector, Col Ren declined to reveal details and whether the parts of the drone recovered by Chinese troops have been handed back to India. “It is our position that India should have learnt lesson from the incident,” he said. On December 7, China had lodged a diplomatic protest with India claiming that an Indian drone has “intruded” into its airspace and crashed in the Sikkim section of the border which included Doklam. India has clarified that the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle had developed a technical snag and asked China to return it.