In yet another attempt to counter India's stand on the border conflict in Sikkim's Doklam region, China has reportedly briefed authorities in Nepal on the standoff.
China's deputy chief of mission discussed the Doklam border conflict with his Nepali counterpart in a "courtesy meeting" and also explained to him China's stand on the matter, diplomatic sources told the Times of India. Chinese officials have also held meetings with their Nepali counterparts in Kathmandu and Beijing.
China's discussions on the Doklam issue with Nepal holds significance because India shares two tri-junctions with Nepal and China in a disputed area. Nepal also happens to be one of the neighbouring countries that India is struggling to maintain its sphere of influence with.
India shares two tri-junctions with Nepal and China — Lipulekh in western Nepal and Jhinsang Chuli on the eastern side. Lipulekh is a cause of insecurity for Nepal as it is located in the disputed area of Kalapani that is claimed by both India and Nepal.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to China in 2015, India's decision to expand trade with the country through the Lipulekh Pass had created an uproar in Nepal with the country's parliament demanding that both India and China do not mention Lipulekh in the Sino-Indian joint statement becuase it was against international norms.
The parliament of Nepal had also sought to know if the Sino-Indian agreement would erode the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.
China has maintained that India must withdraw its troops from Doklam for peace talks to take place. India responded by saying that it "is only fair" that both countries withdraw their respective troops for talks to happen.
Meanwhile, India has not yet made any public announcement on whether it has met with officials from other countries and briefed them about its stand on the border issue. Meanwhile, India did discuss the matter with US diplomats a few weeks ago, TOI reported.
The standoff began on June 16 after China accused Indian troops of entering Doklam and stopping Chinese troops from constructing a road in the area. However, India responded by saying the border dispute is yet to be resolved and that China should "desist from changing the status quo".
India also accused China of building roads on the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction and its People's Liberation Army (PLA) of intruding into Indian territory through Sikkim and destroying bunkers, while China has claimed India is provoking them and the issue can be resolved only if India withdraws its troops.
India fears that the road-building activity would allow Chinese troops to cut its access to the seven states in the Northeast.
There's a growing concern in Nepal that the standoff between India and China may not be in its best interests despite the Nepalese government not having sought any briefing from the Indian government yet.
Indian and Chinese officials are set to visit Kathmandu this month for high-level meetings. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will visit Nepal next week for the BIMSTEC meeting while Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang will visit the country on August 14 for a meeting top leaders.
Both Swaraj and Wang are likely to talk about the Sikkim standoff. Swaraj is expected to lay the groundwork for Nepal PM Sher Bahadur Deuba's visit to India later this month.
Meanwhile, Wang is expected to follow up on Nepal's decision to officially become a part of China's One-Belt-One-Road project despite India's reservations about the initiative.