Recently at the G-20 conference in Hamburg, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had their first brief face-to-face meeting, after the Dokalam standoff in Bhutan. Last time, after the meeting in Astana, Modi tweeted, “We talked about improving India-China relations and boost the relations.” He was probably unaware that at the same time, the People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) is violating the sovereignty of Bhutan.
China plans to construct a 40-ton road from Doop Long to the Bhutanese army’s camp which can change the definition of the diplomatic triangle of India-Bhutan-China. Due to this, China sent forces in the plateau region of Dokalm.
India-China-Bhutan Border Tension
There is tension in the border and both ambitious nationalists leaders of both of India and China are also tied to domestic compulsions. Therefore, to break escalating tensions, it is vital that both leaders maintain contact and send positive signals to people of both the nations.
Both the leaders of India and China can get some photographs clicked, shake hands, greet with a warm smile, so that there is some reduction in hyped-up tension, before the formal negotiation of peace-building commences. This technique has proved quite effective in de-escalating the tension after previous clashes. However, it is important to remember that in the present scenario, the triangular arrangement of India-China-Bhutan gives a clear disbelief between India and China.
In New Delhi, the Chinese Ambassador asked India to withdraw its army ‘unconditionally’ and denied the possibility of any talks without it. He also added that if India wants to adopt military options, then it is free. In reply, India’s Minister of State for Defence demanded that “Chinese forces should not occupy Bhutanese territory and move back to its original position.
Bhutan has also kept its position very clear. Bhutanese officials first tried the Chinese workers before Indian intervention. Then the Ambassador of Bhutan, Delhi, released a démarche to the Chinese diplomat. In that démarche, Bhutan Ambassador in New Delhi emphasized that China’s road construction is a violation of their territory and the Chinese army must return back to its original position.
Is this a China-India or China-Bhutan Dispute
According to Chinese Media, this is basically a dispute between China and Bhutan and India was just meddling with China to please the Trump administration and showing that India could single-highhandedly contain China. There are opinions which believe that India is provoking Bhutan to maintain a claim over Dokalam region due to its own security reasons. In 2007, there was a historic treaty between India and Bhutan, whose primary aim was to ‘update’ the India-Bhutan treaty of 1949. Bhutan contains to remain in strong Indian influence, while China attempts to establish some diplomatic relationship with Bhutan, to sideline India.