China is willing to discuss the reopening of the Nathu La Pass with India, a mountain pass in the Himalayas which connects India’s Sikkim with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, which has been closed due to the standoff in Doklam.
Many pilgrims from Sikkim have been going through the Nathu La Pass to Tibet for pilgrimages since 2015. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at Tuesday’s daily press conference that “based on the agreement reached by both countries’ leaders, and the fact that Sikkim’s part of the China-India border is undisputed, China agreed in 2015 to open the pass for pilgrimages, and has worked well in the past two years.”
“Because India sent troops into Chinese territory in June and caused border tensions, China postponed the arrangement for security reasons,” Geng said.
Since Indian troops have withdrawn from Chinese territory and “China highly values people-to-people exchanges between China and India, China is willing to discuss the pilgrimage issue with India,” Geng added.
“Snow is preventing the pass from being immediately reopened, but relations between China and India have been repaired to some extent after the withdrawal of Indian troops and the BRICS Summit 2017, so the pass will be reopened after winter,” Qian Feng, an expert at the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Geng also discussed the sharing of hydrological data. India has blamed China for refusing to share hydrological data from the upstream of Brahmaputra River (Yarlung Zangbo River) due to the border tensions, the Hindustan Times reported.
Geng said “due to the damage caused by last year’s floods and upgrading and reconstruction work, the hydrometric stations in China are unable to collect hydrological data. India understands this perfectly.”
China is not tricking India, and as long as bilateral ties are restored to normal and we fix our stations, we will share the data with India, Qian said.