Engaging with China diplomatically: India

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New Delhi/ Beijing, Aug 4 (PTI): Amid high-pitched Chinese rhetoric, India said on Friday it continues to engage with China diplomatically and has been in close coordination with Bhutan in finding a mutually-acceptable solution to the Dokalam standoff but did not give details of such interactions.

On the other hand, China has said that it has shown ‘utmost goodwill’ over the prolonged military standoff with India in the Sikkim sector but warned that its ‘restraint’ has a ‘bottom line’.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay, however, refused to comment whether there was reduction of Indian troops at the tri-junction between India-China-Bhutan, saying, “these are operational matters, whether on our side or on the other side”. He was asked to respond to China’s claim of India reducing its troops from 400 to 40 in Dokalam.

Asserting that diplomatic engagement was the only way to resolve the face-off between the Chinese and Indian troops at the tri-junction, Baglay referred to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement in the Lok Sabha yesterday that war was not an option to settle differences.

Emphasising that India’s objective is to achieve peace and tranquillity through diplomacy, he said New Delhi continues to engage with China through diplomatic channels to find a mutually acceptable solution and also was in continuous and close coordination with Bhutan on the Dokalam issue. However, he did not give details of such interactions.

Baglay’s remarks came in the backdrop a report by the state-run Xinhua news agency, quoting Ren Guoqiang, a spokesperson of the Chinese defence ministry, as saying that “since the incident occurred, China has shown utmost goodwill and sought to communicate with India through diplomatic channels to resolve the incident. Chinese armed forces have also shown a high level of restraint with an eye to the general bilateral relations and the regional peace and stability.”

Referring to India’s June 30 statement on the issue, he said it was put out after “careful deliberations”. It has lot of facts and all India’s position in the statement, he said, “We have put our side on the table fairly and squarely.”

However, he did not confirm or deny Chinese contention that India was given prior notice over the construction of the road in Dokalam near the Sikkim sector, saying, it will not be correct to give details of all diplomatic interactions.

Meanwhile, China said that it has shown ‘utmost goodwill’ over the prolonged military standoff with India in the Sikkim sector but warned that its ‘restraint’ has a ‘bottom line’. The reaction from the Chinese defence ministry came on Thursday night a day after India’s external affairs ministry in a statement said that the peace and tranquillity of the India-China boundary constitutes the important prerequisite for the smooth development of bilateral relations.

Ren Guoqiang, a spokesperson of the Chinese defence ministry, in a statement called on the Indian side to swiftly address the situation in a proper manner to restore peace and tranquillity in the border region.

“Since the incident occurred, China has shown utmost goodwill and sought to communicate with India through diplomatic channels to resolve the incident. Chinese armed forces have also shown a high level of restraint with an eye to the general bilateral relations and the regional peace and stability,” Ren said, according to report in the state-run Xinhua news agency.

“However, goodwill has its principles and restraint has its bottom line,” Ren added. The spokesperson urged the Indian side to give up the “illusion of its delaying tactic, as no country should underestimate the Chinese forces’ confidence and capability to safeguard peace and their resolve and willpower to defend national sovereignty, security and development interests”.

Ren said the Chinese armed forces will resolutely protect the country’s territorial sovereignty and security interests. His comments also come after Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval met his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of a BRICS summit of NSAs from the member countries.

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