When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin early this month during his visit to St.Petersburg that India and China never had any border skirmishes in recent decades, it had sent positive vibes which were finally stalled at the trijunction of India, Bhutan and China borders in Sikkim.
In its bid to construct a road along Bhutan and India at Sikkim border, China first asked India to respect Bhutan which has shared the border but never raised any issue over the road. When Bhutan joined India in support over the trijunction violation, Beijing reminded India of history.
India can never afford to forget history. In 1962, India and China had fought a war over the border in Ladakh region that took the toll in defeated India and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s health which deteriorated over what he described as a let down by China despite his support to them at international fora.
China is upset that India is egging Tibet and together raising objection to construct a road on a trijunction that is called Chicken’s Neck and strategically crucial or vulnerable for India.
“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,” asserted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang in Beijing, refuting India’s objection.
Besides lodging protest with New Delhi, China wanted to go aggressive by shutting the Nathu La pass in Sikkim for Indian pilgrims to Manasarovar. Defending the move, the Chinese spokesman said:
“For a long time in the interest of India-China relations, China provided great conveniences to the Indian pilgrims. Based on the consensus between the two countries’ leaders, and on the fact that the Sikkim sector boundary is delineated and recognised by two countries, the Chinese side in 2015 opened the Nathu La pass for Indian pilgrims,” he said.
“Now the suspension of the same is an emergency response to the situation there. I want to stress that the resumption of pilgrims pass requires necessary atmosphere and conditions. So the liability of the same totally lies with the Indian side and when it will be reopened depends on when or whether the Indian side will correct its errors,” he said.
Though China doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Bhutan, Lu said Bhutan is a universally recognised sovereign country and a third party should not interfere on behalf of Bhutan. Strange but Chinese over-reaction smacks of something more.
Of late, India and China relations have been smooth with bilateral trade and investment ballooning beyond the border constraints. Major mobile brands of Chinese mobile companies like Xiaomi, OnePlus and Oppo have become the top brands next only to Samsung, and machinery is mostly imported by India from China. But where will it lead to?