NEW DELHI: China said that it was open to discussing with India "the possibility of alternative arrangements through other routes for Indian official yatris who had planned to visit Kailash and Manasrovar via Nathu La Pass".
The Chinese embassy in New Delhi said in a statement that the entry of Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims to Tibet through the Nathu La Pass had been halted for their safety. It said Beijing respects Indian sentiments on the pilgrimage.
"We are willing to discuss the possibility of alternative arrangements through other routes for Indian official yatris (pilgrims) who had planned to visit Kailash and Manasrovar via Nathu La Pass," embassy spokesperson Xie Liyan said. The official said that "the official yatra through Lipuleku Pass and non-official yatra through Lhasa and Purang are still on the rails".
China stalled this year's pilgrimage from Sikkim and through the Nathu La pass last month, demanding that India withdraw its troops from Doklam, which China claims as its territory and where it is building a road. Bhutan, which has a territorial dispute over Doklam with China has objected to the attempt to build a road as has India, which says it has security implications for it.
In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry today accused India of "trampling" on the Panchsheel principles and asked New Delhi to "correct its mistakes" as soon as possible by pulling back troops. India declined to comment on the statement.
"I am not taking any questions other than pertaining to this visit," Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said at a briefing in Israel on PM Modi's bilateral talks with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.
Chinese embassy statement said the "Indian yatra to Kailash and Manasrovar is an important part of China-India people-to-people and cultural exchanges," noting that the yatra through the Nathu La pass was opened n 2015. The two sides, it said, "agreed that a total of 350 yatris in seven batches would take part in yatras to Xizang through Nathula Pass this year."
The embassy said the "first batch would have entered Xizang on June 20th, with visas already issued by Chinese embassy and preparation ready in Xizang. However, days before the departure of the yatris the Indian border troops crossed into the Chinese territory and obstructed the Chinese border troops' normal activities in Doklam." China, it said, had to stall their entry into Xizang through the Nathu La Pass to ensure their safety.
It also said that "up to now, the official yatra through Lipuleku Pass and non-official yatra through Lhasa and Purang are still on the rails. We are willing to discuss the possibility of alternative arrangements through other routes for Indian official yatris who had planned to visit Kailash and Manasrovar via Nathula Pass."
China and India have been engaged in a standoff in the Dokalam area near the India, China, Bhutan tri-junction for the past 19 days after a Chinese Army's construction party attempted to build the road. Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam and China claims as the Donglang region.
China's state-run media had yesterday quoted Chinese analysts as saying that Beijing would be forced to use a "military way" to end the standoff in the Sikkim sector if India refuses to listen to the "historical lessons" being offered by it.