Chinese foreign ministry said it would talk to New Delhi on the pilgrim issue. It needed time to consider reopening the Nathu la route to Indians visiting Mansarovar lake in Tibet, China said.
Beijing had stopped the passage of pilgrims in these areas after the Doklam standoff near the Sikkim border.
An soldier stands under the gate to a war memorial near the India-China trade route at Nathu-La. (Reuters file photo)
China indicated on Tuesday — within a fortnight of the Doklam agreement with India — that it wants to negotiate on issues like resuming supply of Brahmaputra river flow data, and the movement of pilgrims to Mansarovar, suspended during the 10-week stand-off+ .
The Chinese foreign ministry said it would talk to New Delhi on the pilgrim issue, adding that it needed time to consider reopening the Nathu la route to Indians visiting Mansarovar lake in Tibet. Beijing had stopped the passage of pilgrims in these areas after the Doklam standoff near the Sikkim border.
While conceding that Brahmaputra river data collection was stopped because systems were being upgraded, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said this did not mean Beijing was setting a timeline as to when the exchange of hydrological data would resume.
“For long time we have conducted cooperation on river data with the Indian side. But to upgrade and renovate the relevant station on the Chinese side, we do not have the conditions now to collect the relevant statistics of the river (sic),” he said. Geng did not specify when the supply of river data would resume. “We will later consider that,” he said. The spokesman added that India was aware of the upgrading of data collection stations on the Brahmaputra on the Chinese side.
The signal from Beijing is that it wants to renegotiate some aspects of bilateral relations without allowing New Delhi to assume that the end of the border stand-off would mean a return to the old situation. The two countries had agreed to end the stand-off near the Sikkim border on August 30.
India considers hydrological data crucial for making advance preparations to face floods or droughts, which are common in Brahmaputra basin areas in Assam and other parts of the Northeast.
that the pilgrim route was opened in the first place on the assumption that there was no problem on the India-China border and that the situation changed after Indian troops “illegally” crossed the border. “For long, China has made efforts against all odds to provide necessary convenience to the Indian pilgrims. According to the agreement reached between the two leaders (Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping), and based on the fact that the western section of the India-China boundary has been recognised by the two sides, China opened the pass to the Indian pilgrims,” he said.