The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is the site of a military standoff between its giant neighbors, India and China. Photo: iStock
The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is the site of a military standoff between its giant neighbors, India and China. Photo: iStock

China has locked horns with India on the Doklam Plateau for the past month with the intention of taking over the narrow area that connects India’s northeastern states from the rest of the country. Chinese forces have increased their presence near India’s borders with  Bhutan, China itself, Nepal and Sikkim in the north and with Bangladesh in the south, and India has responded by reinforcing its border posts.

This confrontation is causing concern not only in the already tense region of South Asia but around the world.

Remembering its defeat in 1962 by China in a previous border dispute, India has flexed its muscles while pursuing the “Modi doctrine”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policy encompasses muscular and even offensive policy options in order to protect India’s national interests, sovereignty, territorial integrity and peace and security.

The entire world including China is anxious about the future course of Sino-Indian relations.

China is aware that India today is not what it was in 1962 because of its advanced military power. China will encounter stiff resistance from Indian forces if it decides to wage a limited war with India around Doklam. Chinese forces will face logistical hardships due to their distance from their supply bases and might also find themselves  encircled by Indian forces on three sides, whose supplies are readily available from military base stations. Furthermore, the Indian Army is well trained to wage mountain warfare.

Global opinion, particularly that of the United States, Russia, Britain, Japan, South Korea, and several Southeast Asian states does not support the rising Chinese expansionist aspirations in the Asia-Pacific region, the South China Sea, Central Asia, West Asia and Africa. The Belt and Road Initiative is also of concern. Though China claims to pursue peaceful goals, its foreign policy is diametrically opposed to its stated position, as evidenced by its threat to India’s Doklam area.

But will it be an easy course for Beijing? Although India may find it difficult to fight an all-out war with China, it is certainly capable of wounding China’s body politic. Beijing might be wise to reconsider before it launches an offensive against India.

Sudhanshu Tripathi

Sudhanshu Tripathi is a professor of political science at Uttar Pradesh Rajarshi Tandon Open University. His book NAM and India was published in 2012 and he co-authored the textbook Political Concepts (In Hindi) in 2001.

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