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Beijing Rules Out Modi-Xi Jinping Meet At G20 Summit, Says 'Atmosphere Was Not Right'

Beijing said the "trespass" by Indian troops into the Chinese territory "had damaged the political foundations of bilateral relations.

07/07/2017 9:13 AM IST | Updated 07/07/2017 9:15 AM IST
China Daily China Daily Information Corp - CDIC / Reuters

BEIJING -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are unlikely to have a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit due to the worsening border dispute, Beijing on Thursday hinted, saying the "atmosphere was not right".

Beijing said the "trespass" by Indian troops into the Chinese territory "had damaged the political foundations of bilateral relations between China and India".

The two leaders were expected to meet at the Hamburg Summit in a bid to resolve the simmering border row in the mountainous Sikkim sector. The G20 summit begins on Friday.

Modi and Xi had a "positive" meeting at the Shanghai Corporation meeting last month in Astana.

A Chinese government official said: "The atmosphere was not right for a bilateral meet."

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said: "As for the arrangement of the bilateral meeting (at G20) between President Xi and Prime Minister Modi, I have to point out that recently Indian troops trespassed into China and obstructed normal activities of Chinese troops in Doklam region.

"This endangers China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and damaged the political foundations of bilateral relations between China and India."

Geng made clear that any "meaningful dialogue" between New Delhi and Beijing was possible only after the withdrawal of Indian troops from Doklam in Sikkim sector where troops of both countries have been engaged in a stand-off.

"We hope India can immediately withdraw the border troops to the Indian side of the boundary and uphold peace and tranquillity on the China-India border areas. This is the pre-condition for any meaningful peace talks."

And Geng warned that India would face "serious consequences" if it didn't withdraw its troops.

The genesis of the ensuing feud lies in Doklam at the tri-junction of India, Bhutan and China.

Beijing and Thimpu claim Doklam, where the Chinese were stopped by the Indian Army from building a road.

New Delhi's objection to the road in Doklam, a strategic point near to India's crucial Siliguri corridor, is due to the pending ownership of the place.

Beijing calls the road construction "just," saying Doklam belongs to China.

"I don't understand why the building of a road by China can bring risk to India? China builds road on its own territory and it is a justified action by a sovereign state," Geng said.

"Anyone who knows basic rules of international relations knows that so-called security concerns of India is to transgress defined boundary to enter the territory of neighbouring countries.

"This kind of protests is ridiculous during the past few decades it is India that has built many factories and deployed forces along the line, even crossing the line, constantly changing status quo of border area.

"Under the pretext of protecting Bhutan, India has illegally entered China's territory hindering negotiation process between China and Bhutan."

The Chinese media was relentless in adding to the tensions.

A day after virtually calling for war with India, the state-run Global Times said China could fuel anti-India movements in Sikkim and help it secede from India.

"Beijing should reconsider its stance over the Sikkim issue. Although China recognized India's annexation of Sikkim in 2003, it can readjust its stance on the matter," an editorial in the newspaper warned.

"There are those in Sikkim that cherish its history as a separate state and they are sensitive to how the outside world views the Sikkim issue. As long as there are voices in Chinese society supporting Sikkim's independence, the voices will spread and fuel pro-independence appeals in Sikkim."

India and China, which fought a war in 1962, share over 200 km of border in the Sikkim sector.

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