NEW DELHI: China and India are currently engaged in what might appear to be the usual polemics but is fast acquiring a larger dimension. Both Beijing and New Delhi had upped the ante, with the former insisting on the withdrawal of Indian troops from what it considers to be its territory and India now maintaining that it was honour bound to support Bhutan in claiming sovereign control over Doklam where the Chinese had started construction on June 16.

China has since stopped a batch of Mansarovar pilgrims and made it clear that it will not open the Nathu La Pass for Indian pilgrims unless New Delhi moves its troops out. "The Convention Between Great Britain and China Relating to Sikkim and Tibet in 1890 stipulates that Doklam is Chinese territory. There is no denying that Indian troops have entered Chinese territory," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a press briefing in Beijing.

In the face of a rigid Chinese stance, a statement issued by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs seemed to be a little more conciliatory as it asked for “utmost restraint” and expressed India’s commitment to “working with China to find peaceful resolution of all issues in the border areas through dialogue.”

The statement said that India had intervened, with Bhutan’s concurrence, as the Chinese construction amounted to a change of status quo with direct security implicatons for India. And that both India and Bhutan have been in close touch since the construction began.

In between the media had reported what was described as a “scuffle” between the Chinese and Indian soldiers as well, after which Beijing closed the pass for Indian pilgrims.

The Indian statement spoke of the efforts made by Bhutan to dissuade the PLA construction party with : a) a Bhutan Royal Army patrol first attempting to dissaude them from this unilateral activity;

b) the Bhutan government lodged a protest with the Chinese government through their Embassy in Bhutan;

c) the Foreign Ministry of Bhutan issued a statement underlining that the construction of the road inside Bhutanese territory is a direct violation of the 1988 and 1998 agreements.

India entered the picture, the MEA statement says with full support from Bhutan, as this activity seen to be changing the status quo had security implications. So according to the statement:

a) when the PLA construction party entered the area, the Indian personnel present at Doka La in coordinaton with the RGOB approached them and asked them not to change the status quo;

b) the efforts continue. And the foreign ministries of both India and China have been discussing this since June 16. It was also discussed at the Border Personel Meeting at Nathu La on June 20;

c) India is very concerned about these developments as this construction will change the status quo with direct security implications for India;

d) That the two governments had in 2012 reached an agreement that the tri-junction boundary points between India, China and third countries will be finalized in consultation with the concerned countries. Any attempt, therefore, to unilaterally determine tri-junction points is in violation of this understanding.

More significantly, the long statement today goes back to the understanding reached under the Congress government in 2012, where , “India and China had reached an understanding reconfirming their mutual agreement on the "basis of the alignment”. And hence has reminded the seemingly intransigent Beijing that it was essential that all parties exercise “utmost restraint and abide by their respective bilateral understandings not to change the status quo unilaterally. It is also important that the consensus reached between India and China through the Special Representatives process is scrupulously respected by both sides.”

And that “India cherishes peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas” that has not come easily.

The statement concludes, “India is committed to working with China to find peaceful resolution of all issues in the border areas through dialogue.”