China has not restarted construction in Doklam area – Sushma Swaraj

Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday denied reports that China has restarted construction activity at or near the site of a stand-off between the two countries earlier this year.

“Since the disengagement of Indian and Chinese border personnel in the Doklam area on 28 August 2017, there have been no new developments at the face-off site and its vicinity. The status quo prevails in this area,” he said, responding to a question on whether the Chinese have restarted construction at the trijunction point.

India and China engaged in a months-long stand-off on the Doklam plateau in Bhutan after India sent soldiers to stop the Chinese from constructing a road on the spot.

India believes that the area belongs to Bhutan — a country with which it has a defence agreement — while China asserts that the area comes within its territory.

Chinese government media threatened India with “total destruction” if India did not withdraw troops from “its territory”.

However, China stopped construction activities and withdrew its construction equipment in August after India refused to back down.

China, however, said it would continue to send patrol parties to the area, which is considered to be Bhutanese territory by India and Bhutan.

Media reports quoting Indian military sources have pointed to construction activity by the Chinese about 10 kilometers away from the stand-off site, within undisputed Chinese territory.

Doklam is of strategic importance to India and China as whoever controls the plateau has an easy access to Siliguri Corridor that connects the Indian mainland to its North Eastern states.

India took an unusually forceful stand on the matter and did not blink despite the threat of full-on war from the Chinese side.