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China losing patience with India, diplomats in Beijing told

Thursday, July 20, 2017
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(Dawn) - China has conveyed to foreign diplomats in Beijing that troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have been waiting patiently at the Doklam plateau in a standoff with Indian troops, but will not wait for an indefinite period, the Indian Express said on Tuesday.

Quoting an unnamed P5 official privy to the briefing, the newspaper said the diplomatic community in Beijing is worried and some have conveyed this message to their Indian counterparts in Beijing and Bhutanese counterparts in New Delhi.

Last month, Indian troops blocked Chinese road works in Doklam and have since been in a faceoff with PLA troops. Beijing has been insisting that New Delhi back down.

Sources told the Indian Express that Chinese officials, at a closed-door briefing last week, conveyed their version of events to diplomats stationed in Beijing. Some of the G-20 countries have been briefed by the Chinese government separately, the Express said.

“Our colleagues in Beijing attended the briefing and were given the impression that the Chinese side will not be waiting for an indefinite period. This is quite worrying, and we have conveyed it to our Indian colleagues in Beijing and Bhutanese colleagues in Delhi,” a diplomat from one of the P-5 (permanent members of the UN Security Council) countries, told the Indian Express.

The diplomatic community in Beijing has been told that the dispute is between China and Bhutan, and the Indian soldiers have “jumped in”.

“They have told our colleagues in Beijing that the Indian side has trespassed into Chinese territory and changed the status quo,” the diplomat told the paper.

This is contrary to what India has said, the newspaper stated. In its June 30 statement, New Delhi said it is “deeply concerned” at “recent Chinese actions” and has conveyed to the Chinese government that such construction will represent a “significant change of status quo with serious security implications for India”.

The Chinese have told diplomats in Beijing that they have strong evidence to prove that Doklam belongs to China. They say Doklam has always been the “traditional pasture for Chinese border inhabitants” and that their archives still retain “some receipts of the grass tax paid by Bhutanese herdsmen”.

They maintain that Indian troops must pull back to the Indian side of the boundary unconditionally and immediately, which is a precondition for meaningful dialogue between China and India.

Meanwhile, a Chinese foreign ministry statement on Tuesday asked India not to use “trespass” into Doklam area as a “policy tool” to achieve its political targets.

The foreign ministry, quoted by the Express, also asked India to immediately withdraw its troops in order to avoid any kind of escalation.

On being asked if a “closed-door briefing” was held with the foreign diplomats to convey China’s version of events, the foreign ministry said it was in “close communication” with the foreign missions in Beijing, but refused to confirm the meeting, the Express said.

“Since the illegal trespass by Indian border personnel, many foreign diplomats in China felt shocked about this and [wanted] to confirm whether it was true,” the ministry’s spokesman Lu Kang said when asked about the reported briefing.

“The Chinese side maintains close communication with the foreign diplomatic missions on the issues they are interested,” Lu told reporters in Beijing.