Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to China to attend a BRICS summit early September, with the possibility of an ongoing military standoff between the Asian giants overshadowing the crucial meeting of the five-nation grouping.
The meeting of the heads of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) also comes against the backdrop of a slide in ties between the two countries – mainly over the Communist nation blocking India’s entry into the nuclear suppliers group, Beijing’s continued refusal to tag Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar a terrorist and New Delhi boycotting President Xi Jingping’s signature One Belt One Road project (OBOR).The standoff at Doklam, at the India-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction, has already entered the second month, the longest face-off between the neighbours who are used to border skirmishes.
The last time Modi and Xi met, at Astana in June on the sidelines of a multi-lateral summit, they had agreed not to let differences become disputes.
None is putting a deadline to sort out the dispute at Doklam, which erupted on June 16 after China accused Indian troops of entering its territory.
“We will keep patience to resolve the (Doklam) issue. We will keep engaging with China to resolve the dispute,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said in Rajya Sabha on Thursday, a day after Beijing issued a 15-page document which it termed a fact sheet of the face-off.
For New Delhi, the dispute is on Bhutan territory and Indian troops went in under an understanding with the Himalayan kingdom, to stop China from constructing a road. That is the reason for India’s measured statements compared to the shrill rhetoric from China – from ‘withdraw troops and talk’ to veiled threats of a war.
Instead, China has quoted liberally from the 1890 treaty between Great Britain and China to buttress its claim. The Chinese foreign ministry on Wednesday mentioned a “non-paper” provided by the Indian side during a meeting of the special representatives on the boundary issue on May 10, 2006. According to Beijing, the two sides had agreed to the boundary alignment in the Sikkim sector under the 1890 treaty.