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Iran Press TV

China demands India pull out troops from disputed Himalayan territory

Iran Press TV

Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:37AM

China has called on India to withdraw its troops from a disputed territory in the Himalayan mountains near the borders with China and Bhutan and avoid an "escalation of the situation."

"We have stated many times that we hope the Indian side will get a clear understanding of the situation (and) immediately take measures to withdraw the troops that illegally crossed the border back to the Indian side of the border," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a Tuesday press briefing.

Lu further reiterated that Indian troops must withdraw before any talks can take place over the disputed territory.

China and India-backed Bhutan have been locked in a standoff over a tri-junction at their common border for decades.

Tensions between China and India intensified last month when Chinese workers began building a road at the disputed Doklam Plateau, which New Delhi says is Bhutanese territory. Bhutan then responded by asking India – which backs Bhutan's territorial claims – for assistance, prompting the deployment of the Indian troops across the border.

According to local press reports, Delhi further warned Beijing that the road was a "serious security concern" since it would give China access to the "Chicken's Neck," a thin strip of land that links India's seven northeastern states to the rest of the country.

The deployment infuriated Beijing, which retaliated by shutting down a nearby mountain pass that Indian pilgrims used to reach Mount Kailash, a sacred Hindu and Buddhist site in Tibet.

The Tuesday remarks by the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman also came just days after China staged 11 hours of live-fire drills in Tibet, near the disputed territory.

The drills, according to Chinese media reports, included an army brigade equipped with rocket launchers, heavy machine guns, and mortars. They also involved tracking and targeting "enemy planes."

Press reports also indicate that both India and China reinforced their troops in the area last month, with each side deploying nearly 3,000 additional soldiers.

Chinese state media say India has a total of 200,000 troops stationed in areas it disputes with Beijing, outnumbering Chinese forces by as much as 20 times.

The territorial dispute centers on disagreements over where the tri-junction of the three countries' borders lies. While China insists that its territory extends south to an area called Gamochen, India says that Beijing's control ends further north, at Batanga La.

The standoff is the longest between China and India since 1962, when the two sides engaged in a brief military confrontation over tensions surrounding Tibet and other points along the border. China emerged victorious in that conflict.

'China's aggression, rhetoric unusual'

Meanwhile, India's Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar reportedly said on Tuesday that China was being unusually aggressive in the month-old border dispute with his country.

He reportedly told Indian lawmakers in a closed briefing on the dispute that India desired a diplomatic settlement.

"Jaishankar told us that China's aggression and rhetoric on the recent standoff is unusual," said a member of the parliamentary panel who participated in the Tuesday briefing.

But local media also quoted Jaishankar as saying that India "will continue to engage with" China "through diplomatic channels."

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