Washington: A US Congresswoman has claimed that China has “quietly resumed” its activities in the Doklam area and neither Bhutan nor India has sought to dissuade it, an assertion that was denied by New Delhi .
Congresswoman Ann Wagner made the claim during a Congressional hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee for Asia and the Pacific. During the hearing, she posed a question to a state department official, Alice G Wells, on Beijing’s actions in the Himalayan region and compared them with its manoeuvres in the disputed South China Sea.
In New Delhi, minister of state for external affairs ministry V K Singh told Rajya Sabha on Thursday that there have been no new developments at the site of the face-off with China in Doklam and its vicinity, and status quo prevails in the area.
“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 faceoff site and its vicinity. The status quo prevails in this area,” Singh said in a written reply.
Tensions between India and China reached their peak during a 73-day standoff in Doklam near Bhutan over Beijing’s construction of a road in the area. The standoff ended after both sides agreed to disengage, and there have been no confirmed or official reports of China resuming any activities since then.
“Although both countries backed down, China has quietly resumed its activities in Doklam and neither Bhutan nor India has sought to dissuade it. 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?” Wagner had asked.
Wager did not elaborate on her claim of China resuming its activities. In her response, Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, did not directly refer to Doklam, but told Wagner and other lawmakers: “I would assess that India is vigorously defending its northern borders and this (the situation at the northern borders) is a subject of concern to India.”