Doklam standoff ends: PM Narendra Modi to visit China for BRICS summit

PM Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping at 2016 BRICS Summit in Goa.| Photo: Reuters
A little over 24 hours after India and China announced an end to their military stand-off in the Doklam region, New Delhi on Tuesday confirmed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to China to attend the BRICS Summit from September 3 to 5.

While neither side stated whether China has indeed committed to halting its road construction in the Doklam area, which was the bone of contention, sources on the Indian side claimed the PM’s visit to China to attend the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit was confirmed only after South Block received an assurance from Beijing on the issue. From China, Modi will travel to Myanmar for a state visit, his first to that country, from September 5 to 7.

According to sources on the Indian side, the Doklam deal between India and China was struck around 5 am on Monday, with New Delhi issuing a press statement at 12 noon. But, there is still no clarity on whether the Chinese have withdrawn their road construction equipment from the area. In a statement, the Bhutanese foreign ministry welcomed the disengagement between the two sides. It hoped peace and tranquility, and “status quo” along the borders of Bhutan, China and India would be maintained, keeping with the existing agreements between the respective countries. A 2012 border agreement between India and China prohibits construction of a road in the Doklam area, which Bhutan and India claim to be Bhutanese territory.

Beijing on Tuesday continued to evade any direct response on whether it had stopped the road construction in Doklam. When asked, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying at a press briefing on Tuesday said: “China will take into consideration all relevant factors, including the weather, while building it. In order to meet the needs of defending borders, improving living conditions, China has long engaged in infrastructure development, including the road construction.”

Hua said Chinese border troops will continue to station and patrol the Doklam area. “We will continue to exercise our sovereignty with historic conventions,” Hua said.

According to a PTI report from Beijing, the Chinese spokesperson “parried” a question on whether China is in consultation with Bhutan, which has protested the Chinese troops’ road construction in Doklam. “So far, we have resolved the issue of illegal trespass of the Indian troops,” she said.

Hua said: “Peaceful resolution of the issue through diplomatic channels serves the common interests of all relevant parties.” She said it showed “the sincerity and responsible attitude of China as a major country.”

In a report published Tuesday morning, the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, suggested the disengagement was a “win-win”. It even commented the “the Age of Hegemony has become history”, but was silent on whether China has committed to halting its road construction.

The report, headlined “Dong Lang stand-off peacefully resolved via diplomatic means”, harped on India having pulled back all its “trespassing border personnel and equipment” from Doklam, which the Chinese call Dong Lang, ending the two-month long military stand-off “triggered by India’s illegal incursion”.

The report said the withdrawal of Indian troops “has laid a foundation for the further development of China-India relation”. It said it was “good to see that the two countries have solved the conflict peacefully”, which served the interests of both the countries.

Interestingly, the report observed that "the Age of Hegemony has become history." It stated: "All countries need to see that no matter who they are dealing with, the fundamental basis is mutual respect, mutual benefit, and win-win cooperation."

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Beijing hoped to get the "support and coordination from all relevant parties" for the success of the BRICS Summit.

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