Beijing, Jan 25: The Chinese military on Thursday asserted that Doklam is very much a part of China while criticising Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s recent remarks that it is a disputed territory. It also added that India should draw lessons from the 73-day standoff to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Reacting for the first time to Gen Rawat’s comments, Colonel Wu Qian, spokesman of the Chinese ministry of defence, told a media briefing that Doklam is a part of China. (ALSO READ – Our Doklam Construction Legitimate, India Shouldn’t Comment on it: China)

Gen Rawat earlier this month said that India needs to shift focus from its border with Pakistan to that of China and spoke of pressure being exerted by Beijing along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

“The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has occupied the area in the west of Torsa nullah called northern Dokalam. At the actual spot the two sides have disengaged. The tents remain. The observation posts remain. This is a territory disputed between Bhutan and China,” the Army chief had said on January 12 on the eve of the Army Day.

Wu said: “the remarks of the Indian side also shows that the illegal crossing of the Indian border troops is clear in fact and nature”.

“Donglong (Doklam) is part of China,” Wu said, while responding to the recent remarks of Gen Rawat that the Doklam is a disputed territory between China and Bhutan.

Wu said the Indian side should draw lessons from the incident to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day-long standoff in Doklam since June 16 after the Indian side stopped construction of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army. Bhutan and China have a dispute over Doklam. The face-off had ended on August 28.

Referring to Gen Rawat’s remarks that India should take the neighbouring countries along with it, Wu said: “I want to emphasize that the country should be treated equally regardless of its size.

“The concept sphere of influence is demonstration of Cold War mentality. The Chinese side (is) always opposed to it,” he said.

Rawat had said that countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan have to be kept on board as part of a broader strategy to deal with China, and India must make “wholehearted” efforts to continue extending support to them.

Wu also denied reports that China plans to establish a military base or counter terrorism base in Afghanistan. “The report on China building a military base in Afghanistan is totally groundless,” he added.

(Inputs From PTI)