Sikkim standoff: China says road construction 'legitimate'

PTI
Wednesday, 28 June 2017

China on Wednesday termed the construction of a road in the Sikkim sector as "legitimate", asserting that it was being built on Chinese territory that neither belongs to India nor Bhutan and no other country had the right to interfere.

BEIJING: China on Wednesday termed the construction of a road in the Sikkim sector as "legitimate", asserting that it was being built on Chinese territory that neither belongs to India nor Bhutan and no other country had the right to interfere.

China also hinted that India was objecting to its efforts to build the road in Donglang area of the Sikkim sector on behalf of Bhutan which does not have any diplomatic ties with Beijing.

"Donglang is part of China's territory. This is indisputable. The Donglang area belonged to China since ancient times and it doesn't belong to Bhutan," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told the media here.

"India wants to raise an issue with this part. I should say it doesn't belong to Bhutan, nor it belongs to India. So we have complete legal basis for this. Chinese construction of the road project is legitimate and normal action on its territory. No other country has the right to interfere," he said while replying to a question.

Taking a dig at India, Lu said Bhutan is a universally recognised sovereign country.

"Hope countries can respect the sovereignty of the country. The China-Bhutan boundary is not delineated, no third party should interfere in this matter and make irresponsible remarks or actions," he said.

"If any third party, out of hidden agenda, interferes it is disrespect of the sovereignty of Bhutan. We don't want to see this as Bhutan is a country entitled to sovereignty by the international community," Lu said.

Donglang is located in a tri-junction close to the strategic area called Chicken's Neck.

China says that the Sikkim part of the India-China boundary is settled and therefore India has no right to object over the road construction.

Lu said China opened the Nathu La pass in the Sikkim sector in 2015 for Indian pilgrims to visit Kailash because of this.

Chinese think tanks speculated that India has stopped the road construction on behalf of Bhutan.

Lu last night also had justified the move to construct a road in the Sikkim sector, saying that the area is "undoubtedly" located on its side of the border as per the 1890 Sino-British Treaty on Sikkim.

"According to the treaty, 'zhe' is the ancient name of Sikkim," Lu said.

"As per this treaty, the area over which the Indian Army has raised objection is undoubtedly located on the Chinese side of the border," he said yesterday.

China had yesterday lodged a protest with India over the alleged "crossing of boundary" by its troops in the Sikkim section and demanded their immediate withdrawal.

It had also linked future visits of pilgrims to Kailash Mansarovar to India "withdrawing the troops" from the area. 

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