Gen Rawat's comments 'unconstructive': China
Beijing, Jan 15: The Chinese criticised Indian Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat on Monday for his recent comments, saying they were "unconstructive" and went against the consensus reached by leaders of both nations to bring ties back on track and preserve peace on the border.
The Chinese comments came following comments by Gen Rawat two days ago that India needs to shift focus from its border with Pakistan to that of China and spoke of pressure being exerted by Beijing along the Line of Actual Control.
"Last year, India-China relations have witnessed some twists and turns but Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS meeting last September reached a consensus to bring the ties back on track," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said here. Lu also said recent efforts by both countries to enhance dialogue on consultation have shown sound momentum of improvement and development.
"Under such background, the unconstructive remarks by the Indian senior official (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 said. The remarks "cannot help to preserve tranquillity and peace at the border areas," he said.
"China and India are important neighbours. They are both at a critical stage of the national development and rejuvenation. The two countries should enhance strategic communication and eliminate strategic doubt and conduct strategic cooperation," he said.
"We urge the Indian side to follow through on the important consensus of the two leaders to do more things to preserve peace and stability on the border areas and refrain from doing things which may complicate the situation, constructively handle the relevant affairs and promote steady development of bilateral relations.
"This serves the common interest of the whole region and the interest of the Indian side," he said. Asked what were Gen Rawat's specific comments that China is taking exception to, Lu pointed to the Army chief's comments on Dokalam.
"I have made myself clear, if the senior official according to the report referred to Donglang - I think you are clear about our position - Donglang belongs to China and has always been in the effective jurisdiction of China," he said.
About Gen Rawat's comments that China is exerting pressure on India along the LAC, he said "if he refers to the situation on the whole India-China boundary, I have also said that last September the two heads of state have reached important consensus during the Xiamen (BRICS) summit".
"Both sides have maintained effective communication since then. The aim is to enhance strategic mutual trust and create enabling atmosphere for strategic communication. Recently bilateral relations have shown positive momentum," he said referring to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to India in December followed by the 20th round of border talks between India and China, led by NSA Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi.
"On such background, the official mentioned by you made such kind of remarks that go against the consensus of the states and do not conform to the general trend of improvement of bilateral relations. We believe such kinds of remarks are not conducive to maintaining peace and tranquillity in border areas," he said.
He did not directly respond to a question about Gen Rawat's earlier remarks about major reduction of Chinese troops from the Dokalam area and reiterated China's stand that the area belonged to China.
Lu also took exception to Gen Rawat's remarks that Dokalam, where the two armies engaged in a 73-day standoff last year, was disputed territory between Bhutan and China. "I want to point out that the remarks of the Army chief mentioned by you once again showed that the illegal trespass of the Indian border troops is quite clear cut in nature. Donglang (Dokalam) belongs to China.
The Sikkim section of the the boundary has been delimited by the historical convention," he said. Donglang is China's territory, he said adding that "China will continue to exercise its sovereign rights in Donglang area in accordance with the historical convention and steadfastly uphold its territorial sovereignty".
"We require the Indian military to learn lessons and abide by the historical convention and earnestly uphold the peace and tranquillity of the border areas and create sound atmosphere for the political development of bilateral relations," he said.
Rawat had said the People's Liberation Army has occupied the area in the west of Torsa nullah called northern Dokalam.
"At the actual spot the two sides have disengaged. The tents remain. The observation posts remain. This is a territory disputed between Bhutan and China," he had said.
Indian and Chinese troops were locked in a 73-day standoff in Dokalam that began on June 16 last year after the Indian side stopped construction of a road in the disputed area by the PLA. The face-off ended on August 28. Bhutan and China have a dispute over Dokalam.