China’s state-controlled Global Times and Indian news outlet The Economic Times published editorials this week throwing more blame for the protracted border standoff in Doklam. Both commentaries accused the other side of orchestrating the conflict, and both said that it was in the interest of either supporting or derailing the China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Liu Zongyi wrote in the Global Times Tuesday on how India is trying to sabotage BRI:
India orchestrated the standoff to not just guarantee the security of the Siliguri Corridor – India’s sensitive “chicken’s neck” connecting its central and northeast regions, but more importantly to jeopardize China’s Belt and Road initiative. In this way it can reverse its strategic disparity with China in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region and tighten its grip on small countries there.
Given the rising nationalism in India, its leadership believes that the country has entered its third flourishing period since its independence and has the backing of the US and Japan to confront China. Meanwhile, Indian leaders have misjudged the will and resolution of Chinese government and leadership in defending China’s territorial sovereignty.
Dharminder Kumar responded on Wednesday in the Economic Times that China is trying to distract the Indian military from protecting India’s interests in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Part of CPEC, he explains, runs through Pakistan occupied Kashmir, territory disputed by India:
Then why is China risking a costly war? The answer to this question lies in two biggest developments in the subcontinent in the past few years: India’s surgical strike inside the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir last year and China planning to build a global network of roads, ports and railways which it calls ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR). India boycotted the grand launch of OBOR because a part of it—China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
India’s opposition to OBOR is the biggest sore point between India and China today. And that could be the reason behind China’s Doklam posture. Border disputes have lingered on for decades and have rarely led to such a prolonged stand-off.
So, the actual theatre of Doklam war might not be the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction where Indian and Chinese soldiers are facing off. It could be thousands of kilometres away—the Line of Control between India and Pakistan. In Doklam, China might be maneuvering to secure CPEC, its biggest strategic asset in the region.