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India-China 2017 - Donglang / Doklam

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Doklam, in the Sikkim sector, is a strategically important area which is claimed by Bhutan. India has been acting as security guarantor to the tiny country in the sensitive region. There is “no change” in the status quo situation at the Dokalam standoff area after it was resolved last year, India’s envoy Gautam Bambawale said 24 March 2018. The Indian envoy also blamed China squarely for the face off, saying it happened because Beijing tried to alter the “status quo” which it should not have. The 73-day long standoff ended on 28 August 2017 after China agreed to halt the road building activities at Dokalam in Sikkim section.

A new motorable road built by the Border Roads Organisation has reduced the duration for moving India troops to Dokala, on the edge of the Doklam plateau near Sikkim where India and China were locked in a 73-day standoff in 2017, a senior official said on 03 October 2019. The road, previously a mule track, was completed last year and goes from Bheem base to Dokala. The BRO is planning to construct another motorable road on the Flag Hill-Dokala route by March 2021, the official said. “Currently, Dokala is connected to India only through ‘Tri junction-Bheem base-Dokala’ route, which was completed in 2018. Therefore, construction on another motorable road from Flag hill has begun,” he said. These roads are expected to streamline the movement of Indian troops to the sensitive region.

In July 2017 India and China were caught in a lengthy confrontation along their shared frontier, spiking tensions and allowing a rabidly jingoistic press in both countries to aggravate the already deep-seated mutual distrust. The current confrontation seems to be the most serious in recent times and shows no signs of de-escalating. Both countries upped the ante and deployed around 3,000 troops each in the tri-junction.

"We firmly believe that the face-off in the Donglang area will end up with the Indian troops in retreat. The Indian military can choose to return to its territory with dignity or be kicked out of the area by Chinese soldiers," China's nationalist tabloid Global Times said on July 5. "This time we must teach New Delhi a bitter lesson." An article on the PLA's English-language website, China Military Online, has warned that "if a solution isn't reached through diplomatic or military communication or the issue isn't handled properly, another armed conflict ... is not completely out of the question."

Chinese and Indian border troops confronted each other close to a valley controlled by China that separates India from Bhutan - a close Indian ally - and gives China access to the so-called Chicken's Neck, a thin strip of land that connects India to its remote northeastern regions. It escalated tensions between the neighboring giants, who share a 3,500-kilometer (2,175-mile) frontier, large parts of which are disputed.

Beijing alleges Indian troops crossed into a region known in China as Donglang, called Doklam in India, early in June and obstructed work on a road on the Himalayan plateau. Chinese officials say the Indian side's actions infringe upon an 1890 border agreement between Britain and China that previous Indian governments pledged to uphold.

India, meanwhile, claims Chinese troops entered and tried to construct a road in Bhutanese territory. Landlocked Bhutan, a small Himalayan nation sandwiched between India and China, is hugely dependent on New Delhi and does not have diplomatic relations with Beijing.

Bhutan said the construction of the road on its territory is "a direct violation" of agreements with China. "Bhutan hopes that the status quo in the Doklam area will be maintained as before June 16, 2017," its foreign ministry said. Although China and Bhutan have been negotiating the precise border for decades without serious incident, Bhutan this time sought help from India, which considers the particular patch of mountain to be a strategically vital territory and sent troops to the plateau to stop the Chinese workers. Both sides have failed to fix the issue since then.

Chinese officials have also warned India that it should learn "historic lessons" from its humiliating defeat in the 1962 war that both countries fought over their border. In response, Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitley retorted that "India in 2017 is different from India in 1962," referring to its improved military strength. Indian media issued shrill warnings about Chinese expansionism, while Chinese state media ramped up their bellicose rhetoric, with the nationalist tabloid Global Times warning that Beijing would make no concessions.

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Doklam Doklam

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Page last modified: 05-01-2022 15:43:14 ZULU