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Status quo continues in Doklam: India

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Doklam
Indian Japan Annual Summit. IANS

New Delhi, October 27: The External Affairs Ministry on Friday dismissed a media report of fresh Chinese troop build-up in Doklam region of Bhutan and said that the status quo remains in place.

“I think, it is important to have an accurate understanding of the situation and not to paint an alarmist picture,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in his weekly media briefing here.

“From what I can make out, this particular news report refers to alleged Chinese build up well within China,” he said.

“I would like to reiterate that there are no new developments at the face-off site and its vicinity since the August 28 disengagement. The status quo prevails in this area,” he stated adding that any suggestion to the contrary was “incorrect and mischievous”.

Indian and Chinese troops were locked in an over two-month standoff at Doklam. The crisis, which erupted in June over Chinese moves to build a road in an area claimed by Bhutan, ended in August, with both sides deciding to “disengage” from the face-off point.(VOA)

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End of Doklam Standoff with China Satisfies India, but It Will Not Weaken its Shield

For India, the lesson is that even though the standoff has been resolved, future flare-ups cannot be ruled out

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Doklam Standoff
In this Oct. 16, 2016 file photo, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the signing ceremony by foreign ministers during the BRICS summit in Goa, India. China and India may have ended a tense border standoff for now, but their longstanding rivalry raises questions about the possibility of meaningful cooperation at the annual summit of the BRICS grouping encompassing Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. VOA
  • China has abandoned plans to construct road on the high mountain junction lying between India, Bhutan, and China calling for the end of Doklam standoff
  • Indian officials maintain that China has withdrawn its bulldozers and road construction equipment
  • India will be even more vigilant in the months and years to come, not just in Doklam but in the several other sectors as well

Aug 31, 2017: As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to China for a summit of emerging nations starting Sunday, there is a sense of quiet satisfaction in New Delhi at the resolution of their most serious border confrontation in decades in a disputed Himalayan plateau.

Strategic road

For now it appears China has abandoned plans to build a contentious road on the high mountain junction lying between India, Bhutan and China that sparked the standoff between the two countries.

Indian officials maintain that China has withdrawn its bulldozers and road construction equipment.

Map shows border disputes between China and India.

Map shows border disputes between China and India

Beijing has sidestepped the issue, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying saying it will take into consideration factors such as weather “to make relevant construction plans in accordance with the situation on the ground.”

Also Read: Japan comes Out in Full Support for India in its 2-month Long Military Standoff with China at Doklam 

It was in mid-June that Indian troops moved into the Doklam Plateau to obstruct China from building a road in the Himalayan junction disputed between Bhutan and Beijing. That led an infuriated China to accuse Indian troops of trespassing into territory to which it had no claim and demand their withdrawal.

India in turn said the status quo should be restored. It says that has happened as soldiers from both sides have pulled back.

China has announced that its troops will patrol the region, but New Delhi says that happened in the past also.

Stronger India

Strategic experts say India scored by standing its ground for 2½ months despite the strident rhetoric from its powerful neighbor about the prospect of a full-blown conflict if Indian troops did not withdraw from Doklam.

“For the first time, I think the Indian government held its nerve in a crisis. Delhi in particular is known to lose its nerve, and that has not happened,” said strategic analyst Bharat Karnad at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi.

Although Doklam is disputed between Bhutan and India, Indian troops moved in swiftly to stop the construction because the area serves as a buffer that keeps China away from a strategic strip of territory that connects India to its northeast.

FILE - Exile Tibetans shout slogans during a protest to show support with India on Doklam standoff in New Delhi, India, Aug. 11, 2017.
FILE – Exile Tibetans shout slogans during a protest to show support with India on Doklam standoff in New Delhi, India, Aug. 11, 2017. VOA

Lingering bad feelings

But although the crisis has been defused, it has further frayed ties and has deepened mistrust between the Asian giants, analysts say.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said Wednesday that New Delhi should learn lessons from Doklam and prevent similar incidents from happening again.

For India, the lesson is that even though the standoff has been resolved, future flare-ups cannot be ruled out.

“The problem is essentially the aggressive stance that China has adopted on all territorial matters with all countries and here the manner in which it has tried to alter the status quo on the ground by building this road, which we have stopped,” said Jayadeva Ranade, a former China specialist at the Indian government’s National Security Advisory Board. He warned that they might repeat Doklam next year or try something else.

Lessons learned

Indeed, India will be even more vigilant in the months and years to come, not just in Doklam but in the several other sectors along their 3,500 kilometer Himalayan boundary that remains disputed despite decades-long negotiations. That was underlined by India’s army chief, Bipin Rawat, just a day before the formal announcement of the agreement.

“My message to my people is that remain prepared, it can happen again, and therefore do not let your guard down,” he said.

However for the time being there is a sense of relief that the crisis is over, especially because the spat had pulled in Bhutan, India’s tiny neighbor, which feared being caught in the middle of the two huge Asian countries and whose ties with India might have been jeopardized had the conflict flared.

Commentators say the resolution of the dispute also sent a message to other countries that China is not unchallengeable.

Countries embroiled in disputes with China in the South China Sea and elsewhere can look at this crisis as a case study on how to avoid escalation with the Asian giant while sticking to their position, according to Michael Kugelman, South Asia’s deputy director at the Wilson Center in Washington.

“The fact that India stood its ground before eventually fashioning a resolution is something that many other countries will take notice of and try to learn lessons from,” he said.

The forthcoming BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit in China might have played a role, according to several reports. New Delhi had refused to confirm Modi’s attendance at the meeting until the crisis was resolved. As he leaves this weekend, India feels it has sent a message that it reached an equitable agreement with China, but their recent tensions may well loom over the meeting. (VOA)

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China Violates 2012 Agreement over Tri Junction Boundaries with Indian Army

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Indian Army

June 30, 2017: The conflict between People’s Liberation Army of China and Indian Army over China’s attempt of constructing roads in disputed Doklam region has led to differences between two countries. China claims its indisputable sovereignty over Doklam, but it is forgetting that it is a disputed area between China and Bhutan.

Situated at a tri-junction of India, China, and Bhutan, Doklam is no way a recognized part of China. Still, China attempted to construct a road in the Doklam region of Sikkim. And when opposed by Indian Army, China reminds India how it is powerful than India in terms of economy and military.

In the name of constructing a road in the region, it cannot occupy Indian parts as 220 Km of this area lies in Sikkim. Moreover, it is disrespecting the 2012 agreement that states that decisions about tri-junction boundary points between India, China, and the third country will be finalized by consultation of the concerned countries. And this step by China is a violation of the same.

The sad part is that this standoff between India and China led to the cancellation of the Kailash Mansarovar yatra- a Hindu pilgrimage to Tibet, through Nathu La in Sikkim.

China still maintains that India should retreat its troops from Doklam which is the region of China and then they can talk about the issues, failing to accept its mistake.

Rightfully, India states that any attempt of construction of the road in Doklam region will represent a significant change of status quo with security implications for India.

– by Supreet Aneja Twitter: @supreet_aneja