China talks of alternative to Nathu La Pass

NEW DELHI: After days of war mongering and ratcheting up rhetoric following the stand-offbeijing-talks-of-alternative-to-nathu-la-pass along the Sikkim borderChina on Wednesday made attempts to deescalate by offering to open an alternate route to Nathula Pass for Kailash Mansarover Yatris.

With India showing no signs on blinking amid Chinese aggression Beijing in a late Wednesday night statement attempted de-escalation ahead of BRICS leaders meeting in Hamburg on the side lines of G-20 Summit this Friday.

China consistently respects the Indian people’s religious sentiments and attaches importance to Indian Yatra to Kailash and Manasrovar in Xizang. Up to now, the official yatra through Lipuleku Pass and non-official yatra through Lhasa and Purang are still on the rails. We are willing to discuss the possibility of alternative arrangements through other routes for Indian official yatris who had planned to visit Kailash and Manasrovar via Nathula Pass,” Chinese Embassy spokesperson Xie Liyan said in a statement.

However, it is not clear which are the alternate routes to Nathula for KMY. It is also not known if Russian President Vladimir Putin had a piece of advice for visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi is currently in Moscow and Beijing’s announcement comes after Putin-Xi meeting on Tuesday.

The Yatra was suspended by China following the stand-off. The Chinese statement, however, does not indicate that the stand-off in Nathula has ended from the PLA side as earlier in the day Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang sharpened the rhetoric.

Geng Shuang told media persons in Beijing, “In disregard of the 1890 Sino-Britain convention, the Indian side said that Doklam is located within the tri-junction of the three countries; that is misleading the public. The 1890 convention said that the Sikkim section of the boundary commences from East Mountain and the incident (of road building) took place about 2,000 metres away from Mount Gipmochi.”

kailash

Geng claimed that the incident had nothing to do with the tri-junction between China, India and Bhutan. “The Indian side is actually misleading the public by saying that the incident took place at the tri-junction point,” he said, defending China’s road building which India and Bhutan have objected to.

While officials here indicated that Wednesday night’s move may be a part of de-escalate, they remained circumspect of Chinese design. “China may have overplayed KMY issue. The BJP government did not come under pressure from China on suspension of Yatra. It might also be a plan to earn goodwill with the public. Another tactic could be to attempt a rupture between the public and the government. This in the background of the falsehood which the Chinese media is propagating that our Government is misleading the public,” an official here claimed.

“Indian yatra to Kailash and Manasrovar is an important part of China-India people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Since the 1980s, in accordance with relevant arrangements agreed between the two countries, the Chinese side has made great efforts to improve accommodation and logistical facilities and related plans for ensuring safe and smooth Indian yatras,” Xi said, adding, “In 2014, when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India, China announced the opening of a new yatra route for official Indian yatris via Nathula Pass, which was opened as scheduled in 2015. According to statistics of Xizang authority, the Chinese side received about 1,000 official yatris and more than 10,000 non-official yatris every year. The Indian government and people from all walks of life have expressed appreciation and gratitude to the efforts by China.”
The two sides agreed that a total of 350 yatris in seven batches would take part in yatras to Xizang through Nathula Pass this year. “The first batch would have entered Xizang on June 20th, with visas already issued by Chinese embassy and preparation ready in Xizang. However, days before the departure of the yatris the Indian border troops crossed into the Chinese territory and obstructed the Chinese border troops’ normal activities in Doklam. To ensure the safe and smooth visit of Indian yatris, China has to halt their entry into Xizang through Nathula Pass. The Chinese side had notified the Indian side through diplomatic channel,” the Chinese Embassy here noted.

 

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