"Atmosphere not right" for Xi-Modi meeting in Hamburg, says China

6 Jul 2017

The "atmosphere" is "not right" for a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, a Chinese official said today amidst a standoff between the armies of the two countries in the Sikkim section.

China also "strongly" urged India to pull back to avoid the situation from getting worse and lead to "some more serious consequences."  While India said that Modi will hold meetings with leaders of countries like Canada, Japan, and the UK on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, there was no mention of any scheduled bilateral meeting with Xi. The "atmosphere is not right" for a bilateral meeting between Xi and Modi, a Chinese Foreign Ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. On the sidelines of the G20 summit, which starts on Wednesday, a meeting of BRICS leaders is scheduled to take place. The grouping comprises India and China in addition to Russia, Brazil and South Africa. China and India have been engaged in a standoff in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan tri-junction for the past three weeks after a Chinese Army's construction party attempted to build a road.

Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region. China reiterated its position today during a briefing by foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang. Geng expressed hope that "India can immediately withdraw the border troops to the Indian side of the boundary to uphold the peace tranquillity of the China and India border areas". "We strongly urge India to pull back to the Indian side of the boundary to avoid the situation from getting worse and have some more serious consequences," he said. Pulling back the troops "is the pre-condition for any meaningful peace talks between the two sides," he told a media briefing here. Asked about a possible meeting between Modi and Xi on the sidelines of the G20 summit, he said "relevant information" will be released in a timely manner. He did not elaborate. China's state-run media had on Wednesday quoted Chinese analysts as saying that Beijing would be forced to use a "military way" to end the standoff in the Sikkim sector if India refuses to listen to the "historical lessons" being offered by it.

Asked about Indian minister of state for defence Subhash Bhamre's remarks that the standoff can be resolved diplomatically and Chinese soldiers should leave the Bhutanese territory to reduce tension in the area, Geng said, "We noted the statement". "We have said many times that the illegal entry of Indian border troops at the defined section and mutually recognised boundary is different in nature from previous frictions at the undefined part of the boundary," Geng said.
Geng rejected allegations that Chinese troops entered Bhutan's territory. Bhutan has already lodged a protest with China saying that the road being built by Chinese troops was in its territory.