On Monday an Indian navy source reported that Chinese military deployment in the area has created concerns in the Indian Ocean region.
Prior to Chinese President Xi Jinping visits with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stopover in Israel tempers have flared over their Sikkim border.
China has accused India of “betraying” a British-era territorial understanding over the disputed border.
Both Jinping and Modi are scheduled to be at the G20 meeting in Germany, where the Indian PM is expected to join other leaders after his visit to Jerusalem – a first for an Indian head of state.
The row between the Asian neighbors could impact talks between Modi and the Chinese president should they cross paths at the summit this week.
On Monday an Indian navy source reported that Chinese military deployment in the area has created concerns about the increase in activity by Chinese vessels in the Indian Ocean region.
An intelligence-gathering ship, Haiwingxing, was spotted in the area late last month – long after the Sikkim impasse began.
India’s naval satellites, surveillance planes and surface warships reportedly spotted Luyang III-class destroyers, hydrographic research vessels and tankers belonging to China.
The presence of a submarine was also all but confirmed by the sighting of Chongmingdao, a Chinese navy submarine support vessel.
Recently, Indian and Chinese troops had a standoff near the Sikkim border after the Chinese army attempted to build a road in Doklam or Donglang – as referenced by Beijing – which is the source of a dispute between the latter and Bhutan.
Experts in Beijing believe this diplomatic tiff – one of the longest agitation between the neighbors since the war in 1962 – could lead to a full-on military confrontation.
On Monday, the Chinese foreign ministry cited correspondence between former PM Jawaharlal Nehru and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai as evidence that India “endorsed” the Sino-British treaty.
He elaborated that the ongoing “trespass” by Indian troops in the region is a “betrayal” of that position, which he stated has been upheld by New Delhi since then.
“Former Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru endorsed the 1890 Sino-British Treaty on Sikkim in a letter to the then Chinese counterpart Zhou Enlai in 1959. Successive Indian governments have also endorsed this,” Geng Shuang, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, informed.
“The India-China boundary in the Sikkim section is well demarcated. The action taken by India is a betrayal of the position taken by the Indian governments,” Geng said, adding that India needs to respect the treaty and immediately recall troops from Doka La.
Doka La is located on the Doklam plateau.
The region borders India, China and Bhutan.
India has routinely decried the Chinese reference to the 1890 treaty, saying that the two countries decided in 2012 that boundary points between India and China involving another country — in this case, Bhutan — will be finalized through consultation with the third nation.
On Monday, Geng dismissed India’s concerns and said New Delhi was using Bhutan as a “cover up” to justify the “illegal entry” of its soldiers in the Doklam region.
“In order to cover up the illegal entry of the Indian border troops, to distort the fact and even at the expense of Bhutan’s independence and sovereignty, they try to confuse right from wrong, that is futile,” he said.
The foreign ministry spokesperson also rubbished Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley’s remark that the current India was different from the India of 1962.
“He is right in saying that India in 2017 is different from 1962, just like China is also different,” the Chinese foreign ministry official said.
China is involved in several ongoing disputes, not just in the Indian Ocean, but, also the South China Sea and Korean Peninsula.