India claims international support against China in border standoff

India claims international support against China in border standoff

NEW DELHI  - India’s stand in its border dispute with China is supported by other countries, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said Thursday as she praised tiny Bhutan for standing up to China in the row.

Swaraj reaffirmed that India’s security could be jeopardised if China takes over the zone where the frontiers of India, China and Bhutan meet.

The standoff started more than a month ago after Chinese troops started building a road on the remote plateau, which is disputed by China and Bhutan.

Indian troops moved in to the flashpoint zone to halt the work.

"All the countries are understanding that India’s stand is not wrong. Justice is on our side, this is being accepted by all other countries," the minister told the upper house of the Indian parliament.

Swaraj praised Bhutan, one of the world’s smallest countries, for taking an "aggressive" stand and not bowing to its giant neighbour.

Bhutan has said construction of the road is "a direct violation" of agreements with China. Bhutan and China do not have diplomatic relations.

India, which fought a war with China in 1962 over a separate part of the disputed Himalayan border, supports Bhutan’s claim.

"There is a written agreement signed in 2012 which states that the issue of trijunction (the border where the three countries meet) should be decided by India, China and ... Bhutan," Swaraj said.

"All this while China has been building roads... various activities have been going on. This time they brought bulldozers and excavators and their intention is to reach the trijunction.

"They want to end the status quo of this trijunction unilaterally," she added.

China has said Indian troops should "unconditionally" withdraw to the Indian side before talks can start on the dispute.

Swaraj said China must also pull back its troops for any dialogue to happen.

India and China have vied for influence in South Asia, with Beijing ploughing large sums into infrastructure projects in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Bhutan has remained closely allied to India.