- October 26, 2017
- Posted by: admin
- Category: General Knowledge
The Donglong (Doklam) plateau lies in the tri-junction area of Chumbi Valley of Chinese-held Tibetan Autonomous Region which is contiguous to the Indian States of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. However, there is counter claim of sovereignty by Bhutan over the area.
The Chumbi Valley is flanked on either side by Sikkim on its west and Bhutan on the east. Nepal shares a common border with Sikkim and Chinese and Indian armies are face-to-face along the whole of Arunachal Pradesh.
Right below the Doklam plateau lies the narrow strip of the Siliguri Corridor (Chicken’s Neck) in the Chumbi Valley region. It is this narrow stretch which is just about 100 km long a corridor, and is as narrow as 17 km at one point and widest at 33 km at another, and connects the mainland India with the North East region.
The corridor is of extreme strategic importance to India as all the rail and road networks towards the North East go through it, and therefore it help sustain and reinforce the armed forces posted in the North East in case a war between India and China breaks out in the region.
In casr China blocks off the corridor or breaks the Chicken’s Neck it will isolate the North East and will cut off the supplies and reinforcements reaching that area as there is no alternate sea route as the North East is completely land-locked. Limited provisions can reach the region if India uses only aeroplanes.
The stand-off in Doklam got triggered when China under it’s expansionist policy made its presence felt deep into Bhutanese territory by constructing a road into the Doklam plateau on June 16, 2017, which is an area contested by both countries, in Doka La pass (Doka La is a pass in the middle of the Doklam plateau, which is very close to the tri-junction border of India, Bhutan and China).
This road would have linked the Chinese territory of Yadong to Doklam and would allow China to transport troops and munitions practically at India’s doorstep (the Siliguri Corridor) with great ease.
Unquestionably, the aforesaid territorial dispute is not between India and China rather it is one between Bhutan and China as it falls within Bhutan’s borders. However, China has already pushed off the Royal Bhutan Army which objected to the construction. But, since the disputed territory has as a proximity to the Siliguri corridor, India become the stakeholder in the dispute.
On 16 June, Chinese troops entered the Doklam plateau in Bhutan to build a road. Bhutan protested, and India came to the rescue. India sent its troops because Chinese military activity there was a threat to the security of its own northeast region.
REASONS FOR INDIA’S INTERVENTION
China seeks proximity with Siliguri corridor as it will provide it with the option of cutting off the North East from the rest of India which will serve two-fold interest of China (in case of war) as India’s north-eastern troops sustenance and reinforcement will go for a toss, and the North East could see increase in separatism. In addition to the strategic importance of the region for India, Bhutan is one of India’s closest allies and India virtually serves as a security guarantor to the hill kingdom through the 2007 Friendship Treaty.
So when China infringes on Bhutanese territory, it also tests India’s resolve to stand by its ally. If India does not step in, it shows Bhutan that it cannot rely on its long-term friend and might tempt it to establish better relations with China which is not in the best interest of India in the long run.
A diplomatic demarche was issued by Bhutan on June 29 to protest against the construction of road by China in June 2017 towards Bhutanese army camp in the Zomphlri area of Doklam, and asked the Chinese to restore status quo in the area.
Demarche is a word coined by the diplomatic community. It refers to an oral or written diplomatic statement, containing a demand, offer, protest, threat, or the like issued by one country to another. Demarches often include threat of military consequence. They are usually precursors to hostilities or war or escalating diplomatic initiatives.
China put the condition on India of unilateral withdrawal of Indian troops in the Donglong (Doklam) area in Sikkim sec for a “meaningful dialogue” to discuss and settle the boundary issue vis-a-vis Doklam.
It also tried to bully the Indian Army by saying that it should learn “historical lessons” thereby indirectly refering to the 1962 war.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) claimed Doklam to be part of China. And therefore, the activities in carried out in Doklam by Chinese are acts of sovereignty and hence, are completely justified and lawful.
The Chinese are taking refuge under the 1890 convention / pact signed between Great Britain and China’s Qing Empire on the borders of Sikkim and Tibet for the claim over Doklam and for locating the tri-junction further south at Mount Gipmochi which provides further proximity to Chinese troops with the vulnerable Chicken’s Neck.
The Indian side had categorically maintained that the tri-junction is located near Batang La which is up north of mount Giomochi if the 1890 treaty, which the Chinese are referring to, is applied to the ground situation at the border. However, the Chinese were adamant that the second sentence in Article 1 of the 1890 convention had to be taken into account, which only mentioned Mount Gipmochi.
The Indian side also pointed out that India and China had reached an understanding in 2012 that the tri-junction would be finalized “in consultation” with all the three countries. Any attempts to “unilaterally determine” the tri-junction point – which India inferred from the road construction – would be in “violation of the understanding”.
RESOLUTION OF DOKLAM CRISIS
India and China agreed to an “expeditious disengagement” wherein the troops of both the countries, in Doklam, retreated after two months of intense standoff in decades between the two along their disputed Himalayan border.
This was in keeping with the position stated by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Parliament where she had suggested that the two nations could agree to withdraw troops from the standoff site on a mutually agreed time.
The reasons which led to diffusal of the Doklam crisis:
The BRICS summit was scheduled for September 3-5 at Xiamen in China. In the wake of Doklam standoff, the success of BRICS was disputable. It was also speculated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would skip the summit.
China was not extended any international support on Doklam despite being tried hard by China as the Indian diplomacy on this count turned out to be unparalleledin getting international community on board while hillighting the faults on the Chinese part.
The US and the UK categorically asked China to resolve the matter diplomatically and bilaterally with India. The messages from the US and the UK came at a time when China was firm on its demand that Indian troops must withdraw from Doklam first.
Later, Japan was more upfront in saying that it was China, which violated the international law at Doklam. Japan said that China tried to alter status quo at Doklam while suggesting that no country should try to change the existing positions without resolving the dispute.
China’s effort to take Nepal along also did not yield desirable result with the Himalayan nation stating that it would prefer neutrality to taking sides over Doklam standoff.
Also for China, Doklam is strategically unviable as its troops occupied lower ground while the Indian Army held the high hills.