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With an eye on China, India to host ASEAN nations for Republic Day celebrations

New Delhi: India is expected to invite all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for 2018 Republic Day celebrations in 2018, reports said on Saturday.

New Delhi’s move comes at a time when China and India are engaged in a standoff in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan tri-junction for past few days after a Chinese Army’s construction party attempted to build a road.

Notably, some ASEAN nations are not in good terms with the ‘Dragon’ over territorial claims in South China Sea.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, through which about USD 5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year, a stance contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Commenting on India’s relations with the other ASEAN countries, a MEA official on Wednesday said New Delhi was scaling “new heights” in its ties with ASEAN countries and was set for a “defining partnership” with the south-east Asian multi-nation group.

India’s trade with the ASEAN countries increased by USD 5 billion to USD 70 billion in the last one year, Preeti Saran, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, said in her keynote address to a session of Delhi Dialogue IX — an annual conference of Indian and south-east Asian political and business leaders, academics and others.

Dokalam stand-off

Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region.

India has said Beijing’s action to “unilaterally determine tri-junction points” is in violation of a 2012 India-China agreement. According to the agreement, the boundary will be decided by consulting all the concerned parties.

The two countries share a little over 200 km of border in the Sikkim sector.

China’s state-run media on Wednesday had 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.

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