NEW DELHI: India’s diplomatic efforts to end a seven-week military standoff with China have hit a roadblock, people briefed on the talks said, prompting Chinese state-run media to trumpet rhetoric of “unavoidable countermeasures” on the unmarked border.
China has insisted that India unilaterally withdraw its troops from the remote Doklam plateau claimed by both Beijing and Indian ally Bhutan.
But China did not respond to India’s suggestion in the talks that it move its troops back 250 metres (820 ft) in return, said one source with close ties to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
In the low-key diplomatic manoeuvres that took place outside the public eye, the Chinese countered with an offer to move back 100 metres (328 ft), so long as they received clearance from top government officials.
But there has been no comeback since, except for China’s mounting warnings of an escalation in the region, which it calls Donglang.
“It is a logjam, there is no movement at all now,” said a second source with knowledge of the talks.
In Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry said the country would never give up any territory.
“Under no circumstances will China make its own territorial sovereignty a term of exchange,” it said in a statement sent to Reuters when asked about the talks, reiterating that India had to unconditionally withdraw its forces.
Indian troops went into Doklam in mid-June to stop a Chinese construction crew from extending a road India’s military says will bring China’s army too close for comfort in the northeast.
Their faceoff since, military experts say, is the most serious since going toe-to-toe in the 1980s, with thousands of soldiers each, elsewhere along the 3,500-km (2,175-mile) border.
China has held off going to war in the hope New Delhi would see reason, the state-run Global Times, which has kept up a barrage of hostile commentary, said on Tuesday.
“If the Narendra Modi government continues ignoring the warning coming from a situation spiralling out of control, countermeasures from China will be unavoidable,” it said.
The border crisis caps a year of souring diplomatic ties between the Asian giants, even though trade between the fast growing economies is rising rapidly.
Modi refused to join President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road initiative to knit together Asia and beyond, making India the lone country to boycott a summit in May.
China has warned New Delhi not to be drawn into a Western military alliance led by the United States and including Japan. Modi has sought closer ties with both.
“There will be no happy ending for this confrontation,” Indian foreign policy expert C. Raja Mohan wrote in the Indian Express newspaper, adding that India was unlikely to give in.
The second source said the worry was the standoff could drag on into a summit of BRICs nations China is hosting next month.