Why the standoff between India and China, near the Sikkim border, began at all, and how it ended, after 71 long and anxious days, on August 28, will likely never be fully known. The Indian foreign ministry maintains cryptically that “following diplomatic communications, expeditious disengagement of border personnel of India and China at the face-off site at Doklam,” took place last week.
New Delhi falls far short of making any claims about an agreement or understanding with Beijing regarding mutual withdrawal – leave alone about China stopping its road-building activities, which led to the standoff in the first instance.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has been more forthcoming. It put on record that:As a result of diplomatic representations and “effective countermeasures” at the military level, the Indian side “withdrew” all its personnel and equipment.
• As a result of diplomatic representations and “effective countermeasures” at the military level, the Indian side “withdrew” all its personnel and equipment.
• The Chinese personnel “onsite have verified” the fact of Indian withdrawal.
• The Chinese troops “continue with their patrolling and stationing” in the Doklam area.
• China will “adjust and deploy its military resources” in the area to meet the needs of guarding the border.
• China has long been undertaking road-building in the area and will in future “make proper building plans in light of the actual situation,” taking into account weather conditions.
New Delhi hasn’t disagreed with China’s contentions. Instead, a series of unattributed, self-serving media leaks have appeared, portraying Indian officials as strong-willed men who stared the Chinese down. This is rather tragi-comic, given the geopolitical reality that the standoff is sure to be a watershed event in India-China relations and regional politics. The Chinese Defense Ministry warned New Delhi to learn its “lesson” from the standoff.
On balance, it appears that India won’t admit its unilateral withdrawal from Doklam, while the Chinese side is disinterested in triumphalism.
Clearly, with the brief summer season about to end in the region’s tangled mountains, India has managed to stall any road-building activity by China during this calendar year.
But the nagging question remains: What prompted India to unilaterally withdraw? To quote a prominent China expert in New Delhi, “In the face of mounting Chinese psychological pressure on asymmetries, combined with coercive diplomacy and deployment of lethal equipment, the Indian announcement of ‘disengagement’ at Doklam comes as no surprise.”
There had been reports – backed by video and photographic evidence –of China moving trainloads of advanced HQ-16 and HQ-17 missiles and other military equipment to Tibet. China was reinforcing its layered air defense systems to counter Indian air power, hinting at serious preparations for a military offensive.
Equally, two other critical factors would have influenced Indian thinking. One, India’s economic growth slowed to around 5.7% between April and June, the slowest quarterly rate in the three years of the present government. A war with China would cripple the economy. Secondly, no country voiced support for India, let alone criticized China. The North Korean issue preoccupied both Washington and Tokyo.
In retrospect, China showed that on issues of territorial sovereignty, there is no question of a compromise. But something may also have changed fundamentally in its attitude toward India. Harsh things have been said, betraying displeasure and anger, and a breakdown in trust and confidence.
A bumpy road lies ahead. Simply put, India is unable to come to terms with China’s rise, and the latter senses that it must now be on guard. Conceivably, Chinese diplomacy in the South Asian region may shift to adversarial mode. With tacit Chinese support, countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka or the Maldives may be in a better position to withstand India’s overbearing presence.
India’s future relations with Bhutan, the friend on whose behalf it stuck out its neck but which kept a Delphian silence, are almost certain to become more delicate. Prof. Taylor Fravel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is regarded as an authority on China’s borders, wrote last week that China might well revisit its road-building plans in the disputed territory with Bhutan. To quote Fravel,
“Before the standoff in June, China’s permanent presence in the area had been quite limited. China had maintained a road in the area for several decades, but did not garrison any forces. In contrast, India has maintained and developed a forward post at Doka La adjacent to Doklam… China may well seek to rectify this tactical imbalance of forces. In fact, the Chinese spokesperson suggested a move in this direction… If China does this, it would likely build facilities farther away from India’s position at Doka La, making it more challenging for India to intervene and block China next time… India may be faced with the uncomfortable choice of deciding whether to risk much more to deny China a greater presence farther inside Doklam or to accept it.”
The real lesson, therefore, that India should learn from the Doklam standoff is that it shouldn’t draw wrong conclusions. The BRICS Summit in Xiamen is not to be mistaken as a “kiss-and-make-up” moment.
Deep down, India has a choice to make and China is watching closely. Should the Modi government go further down the road of trespassing into China’s core interests in the South China Sea, raking up Tibet-related issues and identifying with the United States’ containment strategy against China?
Such a journey risks military confrontation with China. How far is India prepared to take that risk? The Modi government’s accent could have been on diplomacy in the crucial three-week period after the Chinese notified New Delhi, in late May, of their intention to commence road-building work at Doklam. But instead of activating its diplomatic levers, India resorted to force, confident in the knowledge that in that particular sector of the border it is strongly placed.
The dismal picture that has emerged over the past week is of the Indian officials responsible for that fateful decision counting trees and trying to convince domestic opinion that India “won” and China “lost”. The great danger is that their core constituency of ultra-nationalists will – to take the sports analogy further – now expect them to raise the bar.
From what I read from IOT, and every other Indian news, includeIOT, The Hindu, even Thewire, and NDTV is convenced Inda Won, especially from their commentators in right wing sites and here on Atimes. So I agree that we are expacting Modi’s "core constituency of ultra-nationalists will" … "raise the bar".
China will never get a upperhand with India,India will deploy its greatest strength the medical doctors who serve from africa to america to arabia to back them….out of world wide doctors of 5millions excluding china/india indians make up 1.20 million of this population or close to 20-25%.
The chinese policy of containing will not work….on other hand considering major domestic challenge of oldage/health & india needing employment for its medical professionals china should open itself more to Indian professionals if emperor XI wants to lead in AI,Medical profession.The real test for emperor XI will come when a ebola or a SAARS will hit & at that time when world looks upto him for solution he would rue why he did not partner with India in sincerity.
India’s media is unbelievable. They even claimed that China offered India 20 billion US dollar for withdrawing. Talking about delusion.
what are you talking about? do you think China want your doctors? have you read any medical news coming from India lately? hundreds of baby died mysteriously in your hospital. Who want that kind of medical practice?
Doklam means more mistrust between the two.
The author is known Mode Hater! and that is absolutely fine. But atleast on matters concerning India, he should speak with India at its focus and not "hate-for-modi" as focus. Unfortunately, there are many journalist who are like him. Anyways, lets face it with fact, India sent its military as china was building road on disputed territory, and removed it after road construction was STOPPED. Everything in-between was between armchair journalists.
Vijay is right. India’s medical prowess was on full display. a few years back, when plagiue broke out in Maharashtra and it was quickly contained. The disease itself appeared because of the enlightened practice of feeding rats fortified milk, because rats are considered holy in Hiduism.China, at the time, was widely reported to be shaking in its boots at this display of this Indian might.
Lets stop this insulting and examine the facts. What we cannot verify is whether Chinese will stop their road building exercise and another article has pointed to that as a possibility since winter is coming. Why dont we just celebrate that there was no war. It would do no one good even if both sides are convinced they are superior. Whoever loses will lose big and lets say it not worth finding out.
It seems obviously author has been pissed by Indian Government for unknown reasons. Or it may be he is short in understanding in depth.
He is a former diplomat not a slum dog.
The moment I read the title of the article on Google News, I knew it had to be written by MK Bhardrakumar- the unoffical spokesperson of China an an extension of Global Times .
I think India’s harsh action was due to impending diplomatic recognition between Buthan and China.. and with possible border agreements.
Doklam means none of your business, India. It is between China and Bhutan. You can sit on Bhutan side, but you can’t sit on Bhutan’s chair in the negotiation table.
so why leaving now? China didn’t say it will stop building road. In fact, after India withdrew, China released official statement telling India to learn from this lesson. What did India officially say? Nothing, silent as cricket.
great analysis. In fact, I did a similar peice a few days ago here
It is amazing how much Mr. Bhadraskumar and I see eye to eye.
Bhadra Kumar , a known India baiter ,who has had issues whilst he was in public service in india is more loyal to his Chinese employers than Xi himself is to China . He richly deserves every Yuan he earns . If you want the real story, read it from a neutral source . Even another Atimes journo like Jeyakumar .
Pakistani peoples are not that dum what they have learned from Amrican attitute. your agends to make money of Pakistani problems is shamful.
Bipin Shah: what "united world" are you talking about? Which other countries are "united" with India in this case when it crossed over the border? The area is and has been under Chinese control. It is only after 13 rounds of border negotiations that Bhutan raised the issue over Doklam, under the influence of you know who. China can decide whether or when to increase its presence under the region under its control.
To the world biggest democratacy, any one with different opinion of Hindu fundementalist is a "Modi Hater"…
Bipin Shah LOL. So hindu should be balkenized…
Yes David, the Chinese issued repeated warnings and threats to the Indian to withdraw, and by late August backed up their threats by mobilzing troops and weapons. Upon realizing the threats are real, the Indian decided not to risk a war. Hence the hasty withdrawal without securing any agreement or understanding from the Chinese. No Chinese commitment not to restart the road building. The Chinese road building was stopped by the impending bad weather, not by Indian interference. Let’s see the drama restart when the weather permits the Chinese to start the roadworks.
Koh Jek Siew Of course the Chinese will re-start road building at an appropriate time dictated by weather and of their own choosing. Indians have nothing to gripe about. It is none of their business.
Koh Jek Siew You are right on ! Under Narendar Modi and his extremist Hindu party, BJP, the inherent Hindu traits of hate, racism, caste consciousness etc. etc. have come to the surface, and are visible everywhere in the media and blogs where both educated and uneducated Hindus comment.
India was always on the defensive and had strategic positives on Indian side being on the high plateau incase a offensive is raised by China. The question here is Did anyone win the standoff? Although there is no clear winner, the reason Indian media is celebrating as a win is for few reasons
1. India was never on offensive rather was waiting PLA to proceed to make their words true whatever propaganda they made to raise war through tgeir state run news.
2. China is no doubt more powerful than India, but to look straight into the eyes and standingoff without getting provoked is sign of a mature country. India has shown that again and again.
3. Chinese wanted to test the Indian resolve to defend Bhutan, its territory and also test U.S. ties that are deepening with India.
The nature of both countries is different. China is trying to bully India, but failed to understand that India has grown up too. Hope China has learned it’s lessons.
Most of the moaist and Communist journos and channels like NDTV hate Modi and India. Stupidity.
Did not China collude with Pakistan all these decades, helping it to get nuclear weapons and to terrorise India? Why should India not defend herself? Has she no rights ?
Of course India is now inevitably going to become a full US military ally, like Japan or South Korea. India has not other choice. The alternative is destruction and subjugation by China. No other Indian I know will accept anything except steadfast resistance to Chinese imperialist bullying.
I hope so.
Or gets Chinese money.
We don’t have a choice of our neighbors, but we need to live with them. If you live next door to a 200 lbs boxer, and you are not one, you don’t walk over to his backyard with a baseball bat and try to pick a fight when he is working on his own backyard. To the credit of the Chinese, they treated their neighbors with respect and never try to bully them. If you look at all the countries that have land border with China, all but India and Bhutan have settled their borders with China. In all cases, much smaller and weaker neighbors got equal or better deals vs their Chinese counterpart. In the case of Bhutan, the Chinese have offered to return the much bigger northern territories to Bhutan (which the Chinese already occupied) in exchange for recognition by Bhutan of the territories that the Chinese also already occupied in the tri-junction. The Chinese recognize that better relations with their neighbors is worth more then the small patch of land in contention. Unfortunately for India, they could never bring themselves to negotiate on the border. This is because the final outcome would be very similar to the line of actual control. A poitician can never say to the public that he "gave away" Aksai Chin, even though this is good for both countries in the long run.
BTW, India have not joined part of the American allience all this time, and for good reasons. The alliance was there to serve American interest, not Indian interest. It means when Trump has an argument with China, India must growl on command. The question is, when India needs the U.S., would the U.S. be able to ride to the rescue? The Saudis, who are allies with America, could not get the U.S. to send troops to a much weaker Syria. The Phillippino also learned the hard way that when they needed the U.S., all they got was some "freedom of navigation" excercises, which does not do them a bit of good. We need to recognize that while the U.S. is still number one militarily, In the Chinese backyard, the U.S. simply do not have an option to fight the Chinese with military power. Even with Taiwan, which is backed by the U. S. and not bordering China by land, the day is near that the Chinese can do a military takeover of Taiwan while the U.S. can only call for sanctions.
Pakistan is allied with China, and also with the U.S. In fact, the U.S. supplied them with most of their arms. This is how the world works. We make alliances based on our selfish natiobnal interests.
The Chinese are open to work with the Indians, but only if India has a realistic assessment of its own strengths and China’s strengths. When you negotiate, what you get depends on what chips you hold. You cannot say that all this area is my core interest and you cannot touch and that is final. The problem with India is that Indian aspirations is much bigger than actual Indian ability. If India decides to fight the Chinese, war could breakout. If this happens, India may break up into many squabbling nations. No U.S. power will be able to prevent this from happening.
India’s victory rhetoric is a joke. In actual scenario, Indian troop has to crawl back to the Indian side of the border unilaterally under the self-appeasing word of "disengagement". China strengtens its patrol in Donglang and maintains its troops there. It is a major blunder by India in disregarding 1890 Treaty.
Ram Nath telling the truth always hurts. There is no angelic India. Peaceful India is only found in fantasy land or when there is no more India.
Arguing with China is no more meaningful than trying to convert a wolf to vegetarianism. India should formalise defence treaties with the USA and Japan and that is the way to ensure that China can no longer bully India. The rest is just stupid name calling and waiting for China to attack.
Koh Jek Siew As far as all that "Chinese are better" stuff, must be like the coward military issuing BS threats and running away at the LAC. Commies are of-course the original propagandists who taught the Nazis how to do it. Most of your so-called "achievements" will also be shown to be fraudulenty, like your military impotence on the LAC.
David Bowman yes it was true that the Chinese were issuing repeated threats and warnings for more than two months, and the Indians were simply amused and laughed them off. It was so childish of the Chinese to make the Indian rushed to the G20 summit in Germany and then the BRICS meeting in Hangzhou in order to beg the Indian to de-escalate.
The nasty Chinkies were even so rude to make the Indian special envoy rushed to Beijing for a fruitless session for mutual withdrawal discussion. The dumb-witted Chinkies could neither make any agreement nor understanding.
They simply keep repeating warnings and threats, and even cowardly moved their toy missiles and toy guns to Tibet for use by their paper army.
Luckily the Indians were magnanimous in covering for the sissy Chinkies by announcing a speedy mutual disengagement by rushing back to their side of the border, before the cold weather set in and trap the Chinkies.
The Indian could have easily administer a bloody nose or an unforgetable lesson to the Chinese as in 1962. Nehru was being kind in not attacking the Chinese then when they hastily withdrew back to the LAC when India was ready for a counter offensive.
David Bowman the Chinese stuffs are all flimsy contraptions which would come apart in no time. They copied everything and built fake fighter planes, fake tanks, fake missiles, fake destroyers, fake aircraft carriers, fake high speed trains, fake supercomputers and fake so many things, so unlike the Indians whose trains can easily lug anything which clings to the sides and roof without any discernible effects.
The Indians have even perfected the art of turd disposal which is so bio-degradable and user friendly except for a little discomfort to the nose. Any parts or organ of the human body can easily be sourced in India as the spare parts are widely available by the roadside. Need any fertilisation by male ? Widely available in India at no charge.
The art of propaganda was invented in the west and used by the Germans to great effects. However the Indians updated and perfected it so much that the west can only see illusions of Indians democracy without knowing that 25% are criminals, votes are bought in bulk in broad daylight, Hindutva lynching of beef-eaters, Indian expansionist tendency which netted her several victims ranging from Assam, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim etc., criminal prison system which victimizes and murders inmates with impunity and all parties covering up for each other.
David Bowman as human being a bit of decency is necessary.
Ram Nath the Chinese trying to befriend India is no more meaningful than trying to talk to a deaf and dumb person.
It is up to India to have defence treaties with anyone she likes, but to try to band up and bully the Chinese will invite reprisal.
Koh Jek Siew
We stick with our friends -the USA and Japan and South Korea – and you stick with yours: North Korea and Pakistan. Blackmail and the export of terrorism is the business of your friends and China and you will be very happy. Don’t worry about us.
Shinzo Abe is in India this week and will make some good deals with India.
Koh Jek Siew I am afraid your attempt at sarcasm is only making you look even more foolish. If you really think that Modi attending the G20 summit in Germany had something to do with the Doklam standoff, you are even more retarded than I previously gave you credit for.
The fact is that your road construction activity has come to an end. The Indians hold the high points, and the road you were attempting to build has stopped. That is what India wanted, intervened to achive, and achieved. In territory claimed by you with Bhutan. Your attempt to unilaterally attempt to claim Bhutanese territory has also stopped. If you try to do it again, the Indian army will intervene again and dig up whatever you are doing, as they did just now. Make all your silly threats. Then say that Modi went to Iceland, or Doval went to Kerala. You are a riot.
Here is what one of your PLA generals, Qiao Liang, says in your Gobar times:
"He explains that it is not the appropriate time for China to continue constructing the road it was building in the Doklam plateau. "Many people would say that the road construction in China’s territory was none of India’s business. Is this belief right? It is reasonable to some extent because road construction in this area is not a matter of right and wrong, but we need to understand that it is not always right to do something right at any time. Only doing the right thing at the right time is correct. "
The fact is that the Chinese blustered long and hard and their bluff was called. They dare not fire a single bullet at Indian troops that had come into territory that EVEN INDIA DOES NOT CLAIM. In disputed territory, Indian soldiers intervened! You could do nothing! Impotence personified!
Now go eat some bear bile or monkey brain to cure your impotence!
Koh Jek Siew Ha ha, your abject impotent rage at your perception of Indian shortcomings is hilarious. You are somehow even infuriated by it "fooling the west". Why? Why do you suck up to the white man so much? The Indians stood their ground, and even openly shit in your territory I assume. That’s all they do, right? Why didn’t your great army do something about it?
I mean, imagine the insult! Someone coming into YOUR territory, and SHITTING IN YOUR TERRITORY! RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR ARMY!! Shouldn’t you have taught them a lesson? Why were you so scared of people openly shitting in your country? I mean, I agree that you may be powerless to stop them shitting opnely in their own country, given how pathetic and uncivilized they are. But they came and did it in YOUR TERRITORY, right? What good is your army if it can’t even prevent something like that? A pathetic impotent army is what it is!
David Bowman so now you agreed that the insolent Indians were trespassing Chinese territory!!! You are admitting the illegality of the Indian action. Now you praise the misplaced Indian bravo. Now you are taunting the Chinese for not hitting the Indians. All the while I thought the Chinese were vile and revengeful. You really confirmed them to be gracious, magnanimous and peaceful, until pushed to the end of their patient like in 1962. Any dispute as to the results of the 1962 lesson?
Any dispute that the trepassers speedily retreated back to their border as announced by no other than the Indian MEA without securing any agreement or understanding from the Chinese not to restart the road works ever? Now who is in effective control in Doklam? Who was scurrying around trying to de-escalate? Is the opinion expressed by MK Brahdakumar out of place and biased? He merely stated the facts and drew the conclusions, and this drew manic and vitriolic reactions from Indian trolls. David please be patient. Wait for the next episode.
David Bowman this show of bravo by the Indians is misplaced. It is an illegal act, like criminals or robbers storming a bank with the inevitable gun fights with law enforcement officers. Brave indeed they are like the John Herbert Dillinger gang. The final results weren’t encouraging.
And you really hit the mark by descriping the Indians as pathetic and uncivilzed. So the Chinese won’t stooped so low to agree or have any understanding with the Indian ruffians. The Chinese just demanded their unilateral withdrawal. This was exactly as reported by the press.
Koh Jek Siew You seem to be quite comprehension challenged. The remark about it being Chinese territory is from YOUR perception. Obviously neither the Indians nor the Bhutanese agree. That is why they intervened. That is why you agreed to stop the road. However, why did you agree, if it’s YOUR territory? Is the mighty PLA afraid of the Indian army? Why did you scream day and night from your pathetic state-owned mouthpiece instead of throwing the Indians out? You see, that is what is at issue. The Indians militarily stopped you from building the road. That is a defeat for you, plain and simple.
The fact that they didn’t get a binding agreement is a strawman argument. Even Germany’s abject defeat in World War I didn’t stop them from starting World War II. Your army knows very well now that if they start this again, they will face the same result, except that the Indians will be more emboldened given that they forced you to back off the first time. They still command the high ground. Your Chumbi valley is still a death trap for you. None of those facts on the ground change regardless of whether the Chinese were forced to sign an agreement or not. The very fact that you bring up your not being forced to sign an agreement indicates that you lost this confrontation. Don’t worry, in the next confrontation, you will get your wish and there will be an agreement signed!
Your cries of illegality are hilarious. I mean you have a communist government with the worst human rights record in history. Worse than the Nazis. And despite that you are anxious to appeal to a higher authority to get the Indians to back off! You might as well disband your army and hire more writers to write even more gibberish in your communist mouthpiece. And maybe take out a protest march outside the UN headquarters!
Finally Bhadrakumar has been proven wrong. Such people dont deserve to be treated as experts.
David Bowman after more than a month the Chinese are still in Doklam, and in greater number too. They are still patrolling Doklam, and are still in effective control. The road building works is still proceeding. What can India do now? Go and read Prof. Taylor Fravel’s analysis.
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