Defuse Border Tensions Through Dialogue: Pentagon to India-China

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Washington: Expressing concerns over India- China border standoff, the Pentagon has encouraged both the countries to engage in a direct dialogue to reduce tensions and free of any “coercive aspects”. Defence Department spokesperson Gary Ross said in a statement to the media: “We encourage India and China to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tensions and free of any coercive aspects.”

India has taken a strong stand against China’s move to build a road in Sikkim’s Doklam area and change the status quo. It’s been a month-long standoff between the two countries since June 2016. Pentagon’s top commander, earlier this week told lawmakers that China is exploiting its economic leverage as a way to its regional political objectives.

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“The Chinese have shown their willingness to exploit their economic leverage as a way to advance their regional political objectives. As China’s military modernisation continues, the United States and its allies and partners will continue to be challenged to balance China’s influence,” General Paul Selva, USAF, said in written response to questions to the Senate Armed Services Committee for his nominee for reconfirmation as Vice Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff.

Garry Ross refused to respond to any queries regarding India and China and said, “We refer you to the Governments of India and China for further information. We encourage India and China to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tensions. We are not going to speculate on such matters,” Ross said when asked if the Pentagon fears escalation of tension between India and China.

Later this month, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will head to Beijing to attend a meeting of BRICS During his visit, Doval is expected to talk with his Chinese counterpart on this issue. The US has been “closely” following the border standoff between India and China, urging the two countries to engage in direct dialogue to reduce the tension. Chinese and Indian soldiers have been locked in a face- off in the Dokalam area of the Sikkim sector for over a month after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the disputed area.

China claimed that they were constructing the road within their territory and has been demanding immediate pull-out of the Indian troops from the disputed Dokalam plateau. New Delhi has expressed concern over the road building, apprehending that it may allow Chinese troops to cut India’s access to its northeastern states.

India has conveyed to the Chinese government that the road construction would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for it. Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region.

Of the 3,488-km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim.

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