New Delhi: It seems the Chinese troops are still stationed in the Chumbi valley in the Doklam area. An indication to this effect came from none other than Air force chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa on Thursday. However, “the two sides are not in a physical face off or in face to face contact,’ ’ he clarified, allaying misgivings about another standoff.
The clarification notwithstanding, online media reports said the Chinese army is back to its unfinished business of building a road on the Doklam Plateau, just 10 km from the location of the last conflict.
In mid-June, Indian soldiers had crossed the border to stop the construction of the Chinese road in view of its sensitivities about the “Chicken’s Neck”, a choke point that links India to its north-eastern states.
After back-channel diplomatic talks, the standoff was defused and China had pulled back its construction equipment. Now, barely 10 km from the stand-off point, China is expanding an existing track, reinforcing its claim to the disputed Doklam plateau which Bhutan claims as its own, reports NDTV.
According to an exclusive report, China has shifted its unused road construction material North and East off the previous face-off site. The construction workers engaged in the renewed activity are accompanied by up to 500 soldiers, who have been lodged in the nearby Chinese town of Yatung.
Army Chief Bipin Rawat, a month ago, had warned, “As far as the Northern adversary is concerned, flexing of muscles has started. Salami slicing, taking over territory in a very gradual manner, testing our limits or threshold is something we have to be wary about. Remain prepared for situations that are emerging gradually into conflict.”
It is likely that the Army Chief was referring to these renewed Chinese efforts. NDTV quoted sources as saying that fresh Chinese road construction activity in the area began shortly after India and China chose to deescalate tensions on August 28.