Dispute of Doklam
- China has ratcheted up pressure on India by officially publicizing its military standoff in India-China-Bhutan tri-junction. Though this military standoff is bloodless and is quite common, but it raised concerns for India.
- Recently, this military standoff becomes more aggressive during Mansarowar Yatra when China blocked the access of pilgrims to holy mount Kailash through Nathu La pass. This pass was opened in 2006 to facilitate both trade and pilgrimage.
- China taken this step because recently Indian troops have blocked a road under construction by China in territory of dispute. It is called Donglang region by China, Bhutan calls it Doklam plateau and India refers to it as Dok La.
Importance of Doklam region
- This region has great strategic as well as economic importance for both India and China. Lying east to Sikkim, it has commanding view of the Chumbi valley and overlooks the narrow Siliguri corridor that links India’s access to north-eastern states.
- If China gains control over this region, then China will get strategic advantages and will get ability to cutoff India’s access to north-eastern states of India during conflict.
Border disputes between India and China
- India and China share about 3488-Kms of long border. The border is classified under 14 divisions. There is line of actual control (LAC) in Aksai Chin of Ladakh region that China captured during 1962 war.
- Till 2003, China claims that Sikkim is a part China, whose monarch had accepted its suzerainty in past. But China dropped its claims after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit to Beijing in 2003. It was also agreed that both nations would progress rapidly to resolve their border dispute.
- For this purpose, India and China appointed two special representatives to take the negotiation forward. Informally two countries agreed to demarcate a permanent border without unsettling the settled populations. This step was interpreted as China has given up its claims on 90,000 sq. kms of Arunachal Pradesh, especially the district of Twang (which was well populated with Chinese).
Intentions behind China’s aggressive moves
- China wants to establish his hegemony in Asia. China is afraid with growing powers of India and Japan. However, India is a huge market for Chinese goods and it is an opportunity for China. China does not want to forgo this opportunity. But India’s growing economy and strategic stand ruffles China.
- India is against China’s idea of One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative which will provide China political and economic pursuits. Hence, China wants to keep India engaged in territorial dispute with it and its ally Pakistan.
- While the latest hostile action on Nathu La pass and the verbal conflagration that followed may not escalate the matter into something bigger. But India should take appropriate action to balance China’s big power aspirations.
- Right now India cannot afford permanent hostility with China because India has to both compete with it and, in many cases, cooperate with China.
- India and China are the two oldest ancient civilizations, who have had centuries of cultures exchange. As big economic and military powers, India and China are key strategic players in the world. Both nations have several similar attributes and problems including large populations, huge rural-urban areas, rising economy and conflicts with neighbors. So it is better for both nations to discuss the matter on round table without creating military standoff.