Saturday, 2 September 2017

Doklam standoff. India tamed?

  • Two months after the Doklam standoff, India said on Aug 25, 2017 that China has agreed to mutually withdraw troops from the tri-junction. Minutes after India's statement, the Chinese foreign ministry said, while India was withdrawing its troops, they will continue to patrol in the Doklam area.
  • “In recent weeks, India and China have maintained diplomatic communication in respect of the incident at Doklam. During these communications, we were able to express our views and convey our concerns and interests,” the statement said. "On this basis, expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site at Doklam has been agreed to and is on-going," the MEA statement further said.
  • China's Foreign Ministry on Aug 25, 2017 said Indian troops had withdrawn to the Indian side of a disputed border area where the two countries' soldiers had been locked in stand-off for more than two months. Ministry spokeswoman said Chinese troops would continue to patrol the disputed Doklam region.
  • This comes days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Xiamen visit to attend the BRICS Summit from September 3 to 5. 
  • After three months of weathering Chinese pressure, it is unfortunate if India has withdrawn unilaterally. For both countries, it would be a loss of face if it were not a mutual withdrawal. 
  • The Indian Army has been engaged in a border standoff with Chinese troops for over two months when the Indian troops stopped the People’s Liberation Army from building a road in the Doklam area. While China has maintained that they were only building a road in their territory, both India and Bhutan, the two other countries sharing the border in this tri-junction has said that Doklam is Bhutanese territory and critical to India’s borders.

India has not controverted any of the official Chinese statements so far. China has disavowed that the disengagement was mutual. Chinese maintained that their border troops continue their patrols in the Doklam area. Our government sources off the record says that the reason to ignore the Chinese assertions is to give China a “face saver” doesn't hold any water. Is this not an abject surrender? If China was right and we were wrong, why are we there in the first instance? Is Modi attending the BRICS summit in China that important? If yes, for whom and why? Is India’s gesture a sign of weakness for all the bombastic rhetoric of nationalism spouted over the past three years. Are we actually a bunch of spineless fellows scared of a war despite a national cause and favorable terrain? China actually won the war without fighting!

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