The Doklam Standoff :The Current Scenario

1 month ago Saloni Hindocha 0

Relations between India and China have not always been pleasant. The reason of this can be traced back to the Indo-China War of 1962 and clashes at Nathu La and Cho La passes in 1967. The tension was recently escalated when the Doklam standoff took place in August last year. The Doklam issue is back in the news due to a recent media report which claims that China has apparently taken over the Northern side of Doklam Plateau. According to these reports, China has made some infrastructural developments in this region.  In response to these reports, Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat said that these developments made by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are temporary in nature.

Doklam Plateau where the Doklam Standoff took Place
Doklam Plateau on the Map

He talked about Doklam in a Facebook interactive session at the Raisina Dialogue where he added that the PLA members are still present in that area but in much fewer numbers as before and the developments made by these people are temporary in nature. However, he also said that if the PLA troops come back again in Doklam, the Indian forces will be ready to face them. The Doklam standoff had continued for 73 days after which both the countries decided to withdraw their troops from the plateau. The standoff started as a result of China trying to build a road on a territory that India and China have debated over for years. It was Bhutan which raised the alarm when the Chinese soldiers came with bulldozers and diggers to build the road. India sent troops to evict the Chinese from the Doklam Plateau.

This standoff had full chances of blowing into a full military conflict. The US asked them to sort the matters by negotiation.  However, both sides continued to make threats and then simultaneously calling for negotiations. India told China that it was ready to hold talks if both sides pulled their forces back from the disputed border area. But China countered by insisting the road was being built on its sovereign territory and warned India not to “push their luck.” The Doklam plateau serves as a corridor which connects it to its northeastern states and hence, it is essential for India to maintain the Doklam plateau region.

Indian Soldier at Doklam Standoff

India had said that the Chinese highway project threatens India’s access to the corridor, while China had questioned why India should even have a say in a matter that concerns only China and Bhutan. India has always maintained cordial relations with its small neighbors like Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Thus, it came to the rescue of Bhutan when it raised an alarm regarding China building a road. China also has complained for decades over India’s accepting the Dalai Lama as a refugee in 1959 after China took over Tibet. Since then the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader has kept his headquarters in northern India.

The army chief mentioned that there have been regular meetings regarding the Doklam standoff and the dispersal of tension is also working well.  After the standoff, there has been frequent communication between the security forces of both the countries. He added that relations between China and India has returned to what it was before the Doklam standoff and therefore he doesn’t feel that there is going to be any trouble yet he believes that it is definitely better to be prepared just in case.