China, on 6 July, said the “atmosphere” was “not right” for a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, amidst a standoff between the armies of the two countries in the Sikkim section.
However, Indian sources in New Delhi said a meeting of BRICS leaders will take place on the sidelines of G20 summit on Friday which is expected to have the presence of, among others, Modi and Xi, suggesting that there was no bilateral meeting between the two leaders scheduled in Hamburg.
“The atmosphere is not right for a bilateral meeting between President Xi and Prime Minister Modi,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry official had said ahead of the G20 Summit in the German city of Hamburg, that kicks off on 7 July.
China and India have been engaged in a standoff in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan tri-junction for past 19 days after a Chinese Army's construction party attempted to build a road. Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region.
There were reports that Modi and Xi may meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit to resolve the standoff.
China's state-run media on Wednesday had quoted Chinese analysts as saying that Beijing would be forced to use a “military way” to end the standoff in the Sikkim sector if India refuses to listen to the “historical lessons” being offered by it.
“Can't Change Unilateral Status Quo in Tri-Junction”
China on Monday said India was using Bhutan to “cover up” the illegal entry by Indian troops into “Chinese territory” and demanded their immediate withdrawal.
Earlier, seeing Chinese troops, personnel of a Bhutan Army camp on a ridge at a place called Zompelri rushed down and confronted the Chinese and told them that they cannot unilaterally change the existing status quo in the tri-junction.
Indian Army personnel, who were present in the general area Doka La in Sikkim on the other side, too rushed to the spot to help the Bhutanese soldiers. However, by that time the PLA had pushed back the Bhutanese and then came to a face-to-face situation with the Indian Army personnel.
The Indian soldiers too made it clear to the Chinese soldiers that they had no business changing the existing unilateral status quo in the tri-junction. There is no Chinese territory between India's border in the Sikkim sector with Bhutan.
Bhutan’s Protest at the Chinese Embassy
India and China had in 2012 reached an agreement that the tri-junction boundary points between India, China and third countries will be finalised in consultation with the concerned countries.
Both the countries share three international tri-junctions – with Bhutan, Myanmar and Afghanistan.
Bhutan too has written agreements with China of 1988 and 1998 stating that the two sides agreed to maintain peace and tranquility in their border areas pending a final settlement on the boundary question, and to maintain status quo as before March 1959.
Following the 16 June incident, Bhutan officially lodged a protest at the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi on 20 June. Beijing and Thimphu do not share diplomatic ties.
The matter also came up for discussion at a border personnel meeting (BPM) between India and China at Nathu La in Sikkim on 20 June.
Last Thursday, the Bhutanese Foreign Ministry issued a press release which stated Bhutan has conveyed to the Chinese side, both on the ground and through the diplomatic channel, that the construction of the road inside Bhutanese territory was in direct violation of the agreements and affects the process of demarcating the boundary between the two countries.
“Bhutan hopes that the status quo in the Doklam area will be maintained as before June 16,” the statement said.
New Delhi’s ‘Reserved Approach’
The 16 June incident is being seen as forcing India's hand to change the status quo in the tri-junction.
It is being understood that New Delhi has been approaching the matter in a reserved manner so that Bhutan does not come under pressure despite the fact that the road being constructed near Indian defence lines posed serious security implications.
The Indian External Affairs Ministry said in a statement that the government has taken up the matter with China at a diplomatic level both in New Delhi and Beijing.
(With PTI and IANS inputs)