India has reiterated that the “status quo” prevails in the Doklam area, soon after a lawmaker in the United States claimed that China had “quietly resumed” its activities in the region.
“Since the disengagement of Indian and Chinese border personnel in the Doklam area on August 28, 2017, there have been no new developments at the face-off site and its vicinity,” Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh told the Rajya Sabha when asked whether China was constructing new roads in the area. “The status quo prevails in this area.”
Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar repeated Singh’s comments later, PTI reported.
The Doklam plateau, near the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction, was the site of a 74-day-long standoff between Indian and Chinese troops from June to August 2017. Since the standoff ended, both countries have maintained that talks are on to improve troubled ties. In January, India had dismissed news reports claiming that Chinese forces were still present in the region and were building a military complex there as inaccurate.
In a Congressional hearing on Wednesday, United States lawmaker Ann Wagner had said neither Bhutan nor India had “sought to dissuade” China’s resumption of activities in Doklam. She made the claim during a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee for Asia and the Pacific.
“Although both countries backed down, China has quietly resumed its activities in Doklam and neither Bhutan nor India has sought to dissuade it,” Wagner said to State Department official Alice G Wells. “China’s activities in the Himalayas remind me of its South China Sea policies. How should our failure to respond to the militarisation of the South China Sea inform the international response to these Himalayan border disputes?”
Wells responded: “I would assess that India is vigorously defending its northern borders and this is a subject of concern to India.”