By Gaurav Sharma
Beijing Jan 15 : China on Monday expressed anger over Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat’s recent remarks, saying such “unconstructive” comments defy the consensus to maintain peace and would rather hurt it.
At a press conference last week, Gen Rawat said it was time India shifted its focus from the western border with Pakistan to its northern frontier with China, which could send back troops again to the point of face-off in Doklam plateau.
He also said that India needed to check China’s growing assertiveness in the neighbouring countries in the South Asia region.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said the remarks would disturb peace, which both countries were trying to restore after a military stand-off last year.
“Last year, India-China relations have witnessed some twists and turns but Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS meeting last September reached a consensus to bring the ties back on track,” Lu said.
“Recently, the two sides enhanced dialogue on consultations and bilateral relations have shown sound momentum of improvement and development.
“Under such background, the unconstructive remarks by the Indian senior officials not only go against the consensus reached by the two heads of state and do not conform to the efforts made by the two sides to improve and develop bilateral relations.
“It cannot help to preserve tranquillity and peace in the border areas,” Lu added.
Lu said India should stick to the consensus reached between Modi and Xi and “refrain from doing things which may complicate the situation. This serves the common interest of the whole region and the interest of the Indian side.”
Briefing the media, Gen Rawat had said the Chinese troops retreated from Doka La in Doklam possibly due to the harsh winter and could return to the point of the face-off.
Indian and Chinese troops were locked in an over two-month stand-off at Doka La in Doklam plateau over road construction by China.
The borders of India, China and Bhutan meet at Doka La in Doklam, which is claimed by Beijing and Thimpu.
India’s objection to the road was Doka La’s proximity to its highway that connects its northeast with rest of the country. Both armies retreated from the point of face-off on August 28.
Asked which particular remark of Gen Rawat’s China has taken exception to, Lu said: “I have made myself clear. If the senior official according to the report referred to Donglang (Doklam), I think you are clear about our position – Donglang belongs to China and has always been in the effective jurisdiction of China.
“The China border troops patrolling and stationed in the area are exercising our sovereignty rights. We hope the Indian side has learned the lessons of history and will avoid similar accidents to take place again.
“If he refers to the situation in the whole India-China boundary, I have also said that last September the two heads of state have reached important consensus during the Xiamen summit. Both sides have maintained effective communication since then.
“The aim is to enhance strategic mutual trust and create enabling atmosphere for strategic communication. Recently the bilateral relations have shown positive momentum.
“On such background, the official mentioned by you made such kind of remarks that go against the consensus of the states and do not conform to the general trend of improvement of bilateral relations. We believe such kinds of remarks are not conducive to maintaining peace and tranquility in border areas.”