Doklam standoff ends: What made China agree to restore pre-June 16 position of troops
With BRICS summit in sight, India and China have agreed to end the Doklam standoff that continued for over two months.
- MEA said India, China have agreed to disengage at Doklam.Indian and Chinese troops held their position at Doklam for over two months.
- Doklam understanding has come days ahead of BRICS summit in China.
Finally the Himalayan ice has melt at Doklam with India and China agreeing to disengage at the disputed site after staying in “no war, no peace” mode for 70 days.
The Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar released a statement – titled, “Doklam Disengagement Understanding” saying, “In recent weeks, India and China have maintained diplomatic communication in respect of the incident at Doklam. During these communications, we were able to express our views and convey our concerns and interests.”
“On this basis, expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site of Doklam has been agreed to and is going on,” the statement read further.
The Doklam understanding between India and China marks a significant departure by Beijing from its earlier stated position on the standoff. China had been insisting that India must withdraw its troops from Doklam before any “meaningful” dialogue could be held.
For India, the Doklam deal is on the lines as 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.
But, the question is what made China reconsider its position on Doklam standoff and agree to resolve the issue.
BRICS SUMMIT IN CHINA
The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit is scheduled for September 3-5 at Xiamen in China. In the view of Doklam standoff, the success of BRICS was under question. There was also speculation about Prime Minister Narendra Modi skipping the summit.
China has given utmost importance to BRICS since its inception in 2009 projecting it as an alternate economic model against those dominated by the US and the western bloc.
The theme of Xiamen BRICS summit is “Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future”. But Doklam standoff could have embarrassed China as it was being seen as violator of international laws at the disputed site by attempting to alter the status quo without settling the boundary question with the countries concerned.
The Xiamen BRICS summit is being held after a successful Goa edition of the group. India had played a good host only last year, China could not have afforded to appear as a belligerent member of the BRICS.
Despite China’s attempt to garner international support over Doklam, its diplomacy was no match to India’s in convincing the world leaders that the communist nation was at fault in the disputed region.
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.
DOKLAM STRATEGICALLY UNVIABLE
For China, Doklam is strategically unviable as its troops occupied lower ground while the Indian Army held the high hills. The Chumbi Valley of Tibet is sandwiched between Sikkim and India’s ally Bhutan. So, while China eyed to gain an upper hand at Doklam with the aim of acquiring strategic advantage over India’s Chicken Neck, it failed on both diplomatic and strategic counts.
As Chinese spokespersons and official media aggressively targeted India, pressure was mounting on the Xi Jinping government to make a decisive move. One of the options available with China was to resort to military aggression which could have escalated to other sectors of borders. China was not in an advantageous position in Doklam and could not have afforded to escalate it on the western sector at a time when it has committed USD 46 billion in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
CONGRESS OF CPC
The 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China is scheduled for later this year. Dates of the grandest CPC even in five years have not yet been announced but it is likely to be held sometime by early November.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has been working to give the party a new outlook. The polit buro and polit buro standing committee are set to be reorganied and Xi Jinping is likely to fill the posts with his proteges. Only Xi Jinping and his premier Le Kiqiang will be the old faces of the new polit buro standing committee as all other will be left out on account age.
Further, Xi Jinping is said to be keen on getting Congress’ approval for an unprecedented third term in 2022. Jinping has already made the move by first getting his position elevated to that of “core leader” in 2016. And, early this month, he became the first Chinese leader after Mao Zedong to be addressed by the PLA soldiers as “chairman”. Jinping could not have afforded to let Doklam remain thorn in the flesh as he unveiled his ambition before the Congress of the CPC.
Courtesy India Today