National Defence Bureau,
New Delhi, 31 August 2017
China’s Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) in his address to media says that in Doklam, only Indian troops pulled back to Indian side while Chinese troops will continue to safeguard territorial sovereignty and protect every inch of the land in the Dong Lang (Doklam) area.
Question: What role did the Chinese military play in resolving the Dong Lang incident? What measures will the military take to safeguard national sovereignty as well as national interests and rights?
Answer: Since the Dong Lang incident happened, the Chinese military has closely monitored the development of the situation. Not a single moment have we forgotten our responsibility of safeguarding our motherland and upholding peace. Not in a single moment have we relented in our targeted preparation for military struggle. We took on-site emergency response measures, strengthened border control, pushed forward operational deployment and enhanced targeted training so as to firmly safeguard territorial integrity, national sovereignty and our legitimate rights and interests. At the same time, through military diplomacy and border defense exchange channels, we lodged numerous representations with the Indian military and played an important role for the proper settlement of the Dong Lang incident. The Chinese military will continue to carry out its missions and responsibilities, beef up patrol and troop station in the Dong Lang area and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security.
Question: The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the other day that the Chinese border defense troops continued with patrolling and stationing in the Dong Lang area. Could you tell us how they would do that specifically?
Answer: Dong Lang is China’s inherent territory. We will never give up each inch of the beautiful mountains and rivers of our motherland. The Chinese armed forces will firmly carry out its sacred mission of safeguarding territorial sovereignty and protect every inch of the land in the Dong Lang area.
Question: Recently, a short video has been circulating in Chinese micro-blog and WeChat, showing suspected encounter between the frontier defense troops of China and India near the Bangong Lake. What is your comment?
Secondly, some Indian media reported that India ended the standoff in the Dong Lang area because there was a deal struck between India and China, in which China provides a $20 billion subsidized loan to India and agrees to withdraw troops bilaterally and stop the road construction. Please confirm.
Answer: On your first question, we have noticed the video that you mentioned, and my colleague from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already responded to this question. Here I’d like to stress that the Indian side should enforce strict discipline on its border defense troops and abide by the agreement between two countries so as to maintain peace and stability in border areas.
We have checked with relevant department of the Chinese government about China providing loans to India in exchange for the withdrawal of their troops. Such a report is a pure fabrication.
And about the infrastructure construction in the Dong Lang area, China has made clear the position repeatedly. The result of the Dong Lang incident was that all the illegally crossing personnel and equipment of the Indian side have been withdrawn to the Indian side, and Chinese troops continue to station and patrol the Dong Lang area. China has long been carrying out infrastructure building, including roads, in the Dong Lang area to meet the needs of guarding the border and to improve the living and working conditions of the troops stationed there and people living there. Taking into account various factors like the weather, we will make proper building plans in light of the actual situation.
Question: Now, the Dong Lang incident has been resolved. When will China hold the annual routine joint military drill with India? There is news saying that the joint drill has been put off in view of the Dong Lang incident. Is there any timetable for the joint drill?
Answer: The mil-to-mil relationship is an important component of the overall bilateral relationship between China and India. The two defense establishments and the two armed forces should further strengthen strategic communication, avoid misjudgment and misunderstanding, and push forward healthy development of the mil-to-mil relationship. Needless to say, this requires joint efforts from both sides and is in accordance with the common interests of both sides. As to the joint military drill between China and India that you mentioned, I need to check it.
Question: You have mentioned that the Chinese border defense troops continue to patrol the Dong Lang area after the settlement of the Dong Lang incident. Does it mean that the Indian side has withdrawn its troops unilaterally and the Chinese side is still maintaining its previous deployment? Is this deployment consistent with the previous consensus reached between China and India?
Answer: We have stated our position on this issue on many occasions. The Indian side has pulled back all of its trespassing personnel and equipment to the Indian side of the boundary. The Chinese border defense troops continue to patrol and station in the Dong Lang area. In light of the changing landscape on the ground, the Chinese side has made necessary adjustments and deployment. The Chinese border defense troops will continue fulfilling the sovereignty rights to safeguard territorial sovereignty in compliance with the stipulations of the border-related historical treaty.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 15 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.