New Delhi: Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue in the national capital Army Chief Bipin Rawat said on Tuesday that the bonhomie between India and China has returned to what was prior to Doklam.
However, he added that one has to be always prepared.
“As far as Doklam is concerned PLA soldiers are there in a part of the area, although not in numbers that we saw them in initially. They have carried out some infrastructure development which is mostly temporary in nature,” the Army chief said.
He added, “While troops (PLA) may have returned and infrastructure remains, it is anybody’s guess whether they would come back there or is it because of the winters that they could not take their equipment, but we are also there, so in case they come, we will face them.”
Rawat further said, “But mechanisms that we have of defusing tensions between our two countries are working very well and after Doklam we’ve started our Border Personnel Meeting, we are meeting regularly, exchanges are taking place, communication between commanders at ground level is on.”
“I think the bonhomie (between India and China) has returned to what was prior to Doklam, so I don’t visualise a very serious trouble, but then one has to be prepared for it always,” he said.
On January 15, 2018, China had hit out at General Bipin Rawat for calling Dokalam a disputed territory and had said that his “unconstructive” comments were not helpful for maintaining peace at the borders.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang had said that his comments went against the consensus reached between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping at the BRICS summit in September 2017 to bring ties back on track and preserve peace on the border.
The Chinese reaction had come following comments by General Rawat that India needs to shift focus from its border with Pakistan to that of China and had spoken of pressure being exerted by Beijing along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
“Last year, India-China relations have witnessed some twists and turns,” Lu had said and had referred to Modi-Xi consensus and the high-level talks since December 2017 to improve the ties. The dialogue and consultation have shown sound momentum of improvement and development,” he had said.
“Under such background, the unconstructive remarks by the Indian senior official (Gen Rawat) not only go against the consensus reached by the two heads of state but also do not conform to the efforts made by the two sides to improve and develop bilateral relations,” Lu had said.
He had reiterated that China’s stand that the Sikkim section of the India-China boundary has been delimited by the 1890 “historical convention” between the then British government and China, which Beijing claims settled the boundary in that particular section spanning to about 200 kms.
China wants India to settle the boundary in that particular section based on the treaty while the two sides negotiated for a settlement for the rest of the LAC which spans about 3,488 kms.
Chinese troops began building a road in the Doklam area in June 2017. Indian troops had objected to the construction of the road resulting in a 73-day standoff.
The standoff was resolved after Chinese troops stopped road building and India withdrew its troops from the area.