A map released by China of the site of the current standoff has a depiction of the strategic tri-junction that is markedly different from India and Bhutan’s perception of the frontier.
The borders depicted in a map released by China to buttress its allegation that Indian troops “trespassed” into its territory in Sikkim sector are in dispute with India and Bhutan’s perception of the frontiers in the region.
The map, posted on the Chinese section of the foreign ministry’s website on Friday, is especially different from the Indian perception of the Line of Actual Control in the depiction of the strategic tri-junction of India, Bhutan and China.
The Chinese have claimed areas far south of what both India and Bhutan claim – New Delhi’s claim is till Batang La, while Beijing has laid claim to the territory till Mount Gipmochi.
The situation is further complicated by Bhutan’s claims. China and Bhutan have a territorial dispute over the location – Donglang or Doklam – where the current standoff began on June 16.
India acknowledged on Friday its troops had worked in coordination with the Bhutan government to ask a Chinese construction party to “desist from changing the status quo” by building a road in Donglang area. India and Bhutan have asked China to maintain status quo, with New Delhi saying the construction activity has “serious security implications”.
New Delhi has also said any move to “unilaterally determine tri-junction points” violates a 2012 India-China agreement to finalise the boundary in this region in consultation with all concerned countries.
China, of course, has claimed the Donglang area has been with it since “ancient times”.
“There is solid legal evidence to support the delimitation of the Sikkim section of the China-India boundary. It is stated in article one of the Convention Between Great Britain and China Relating to Sikkim and Tibet (1890) that ‘the boundary of Sikkim and Tibet shall be the crest of the mountain range separating the waters flowing into the Sikkim Teesta and its affluents from the waters flowing into the Tibetan Mochu and northwards into other rivers of Tibet’,” Chinese state media reported after the standoff began.
“The line commences at Mount Gipmochi on the Bhutan frontier, and follows the above-mentioned water-parting to the point where it meets Nepal territory,” the report added.
The foreign ministry has repeatedly said the spot where Indian border troops “trespassed” is Chinese territory.
The state media also reported that China and successive Indian governments had recognised that the Sikkim section of the boundary “has been delimited”. This, the report said, had been “confirmed by Indian leaders, the relevant Indian government document and the Indian delegation at the special representatives’ meeting with China on the boundary question that India and China share common view on the 1890 convention’s stipulation on the boundary alignment at the Sikkim section”.
By Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing