New Delhi: There has been no change in the status quo at the site of the military face-off with China in Doklam and the issue was resolved with diplomatic maturity, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Wednesday. Replying to queries of Trinamool Congress member Sugata Bose in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj said the informal Wuhan summit in April between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had led to solid achievements.
She said India had a clear policy on the South China Sea that there should be freedom of navigation. As far as Doklam issue is concerned, I am saying with full responsibility it has been solved with diplomatic maturity. There is status quo at the face-off site and there is not an inch of change, she said.
Bose had asked if the Doklam issue had figured during Modi’s interactions with the Chinese President. The 73-day standoff at Doklam plateau in the Sikkim sector of the border ended in August last year after India and China agreed to disengage their troops.
The two sides were locked in a face-off after the Indian troops stopped the building of a road in the disputed tri-junction by the Chinese Army. Sushma Swaraj said the understanding reached Wuhan also had a bearing on the situation in Doklam as the two leaders directed their armed forces to resolve misunderstandings and differences at the local level and not let them escalate.
She said the Chinese Defence Minister was coming to India as a result of improvement in ties following the Wuhan summit. The Minister said it was also decided during the Wuhan Summit to increase people-to-people relations between the two countries and China’s Foreign Minister would come to India towards the year-end. So, there have been solid achievements.
Sushma Swaraj said she visited China for a preparatory meeting ahead of the Wuhan summit and it was decided not to constrain the leaders with a specific agenda so that they talk freely. As there was no fixed agenda, there was no question of Doklam finding a mention. The Minister said the Summit had three purposes — to increase comfort level between the two leaders, mutual understanding and enhancing mutual trust. I can say it with full responsibility that we succeeded on these three purposes.
Bose and other members from the opposition insisted that Modi, who was in the House, should answer their queries on Doklam and other issues pertaining to China. However, Sushma Swaraj said she was fully capable of answering the questions.
Bose also raised the issue of China ramping up its presence in the Indian Ocean region, setting up a military base at Djibouti, getting lease rights of Hambantota port in Sri Lanka and building ports at other countries in India’s neighbourhood. He asked if Modi had talked about India’s irreducible interest in its oceanic territory with the Chinese leadership.
Sushma Swaraj said: It is our policy that in the international maritime routes, freedom of navigation is the right of every country whose territory and maritime zone falls under it. On South China Sea, we have a very clear policy that there should be freedom of navigation.
She said all disputes should be settled according to the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). China, she said, was aware of India’s position.