Ajit Doval Meets Xi Jinping Amid India-China Standoff

Ajit Doval Meets Xi Jinping Amid India-China Standoff

BEIJING:  Amid heightened tensions over the border standoff at Sikkim, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met with Chinese President Xi Jinping today.

The meet came a day after one with his counterpart Yang Jiechi where the two held bilateral or one-on-one talks on the sidelines of a summit of top security officials from BRICS - Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa.

The Indian government has so far not commented on whether the dispute at Sikkim was discussed.

China's State Councillor Yang separately met senior security representatives from South Africa, Brazil and India and "set forth China's position on bilateral issues and major problems", said news agency Xinhua.

China says that last month, Indian troops crossed the border at Sikkim to stop the Chinese army from constructing a road on a remote Himalayan plateau it calls Donglang. Bhutan says the region is Doklam, and is part of its tiny kingdom.

The row has festered for more than a month as India and China refuse to back down in the distant but strategically key territory.

India, a close ally of Bhutan, deployed troops to stop the road construction project, prompting Beijing to accuse India of trespassing on Chinese soil. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj last week said both sides should pull back soldiers to allow talks on the conflict.

But China in response warned that it would step up its deployment, and insists that India must withdraw its troops before any proper negotiation takes place.

"The solution to this issue is simple, which is that the Indian troops back out honestly," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said this week.

Sarath Chand, the vice army chief, said on Tuesday: "China is expanding its influence across the Himalayas into our neighbourhood despite being an economy five times the size (of India), with such a large standing army... it is bound to be a threat for us in the years ahead."

The standoff is a very public sign of India's willingness to push back.

India has also voiced concern about another Chinese project: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will give Beijing access to the Arabian Sea but passes through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. The project is part of a massive Chinese global trade infrastructure programme dubbed One Belt, One Road, which India has snubbed.


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