Sikkim Standoff : Bhutan rejects Beijing’s claim that Doklam belongs to China

New Delhi, Aug 10 : The Government of Bhutan on Thursday pointedly refuted a Chinese foreign ministry claim that Bhutan had conveyed through diplomatic channels to China that the trilateral border stand-off area in Doklam in the Sikkim sector is not its territory.

Official sources in the Bhutanese Government told over phone, “Our position on the border issue of Doklam is very clear. Please refer to our statement which has been published on the web site of Bhutan’s foreign ministry on June 29, 2017.”

The Bhutanese sources were responding to a stunning, but unsubstantiated claim made by China’s top diplomat, Wang Wenli, that Bhutan had conveyed to Beijing through the diplomatic channels that the area of the standoff was not its territory.

Wang, who is the Deputy Director General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs in China’s foreign ministry, reportedly conveyed this information to a visiting Indian media delegation on Wednesday.

The sources said that the statement is clear that the agreements of 1988 and 1998 also state that both sides “will refrain from taking unilateral action, or use of force, to change the status quo of the boundary (and that) Bhutan hopes that the status quo in the Doklam area will be maintained as before 16 June 2017.”

India has also cited the Bhutanese foreign ministry as emphasizing that “the construction of the road inside Bhutanese territory is a direct violation of the 1988 and 1998 agreements between Bhutan and China and affects the process of demarcating the boundary between these two countries.”

India has conveyed to China that the road construction would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for New Delhi.

India has said both sides should first pull back their troops for any talks to take place.

Bhutan has no direct diplomatic relations with China and maintains contacts with Beijing through its diplomatic mission in New Delhi.

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