Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Indian, Chinese Army Could See A Repeat Of 2017 Doklam Standoff Near The LAC?

India has opened a new bridge at Daporijo over the Subansiri River in Arunachal Pradesh which will enable faster movement of Indian Army troops and heavy artillery towards the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) which separates India with China.

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Recently inaugurated through a video conference by the Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Prema Khandu, the 430 feet bridge has been developed by Border Roads Organization (BRO) which has the capacity to take about 40 tons of weight.

This new bridge has replaced two old bridges, one at Tamim and other at Daporijo. The bridge will function primarily to allow unhindered access to about 3000 Indian Army troops and 451 villages that fall in the region.

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However, India’s new all-weather access close the Chinese border could provoke tensions between the two Asian powers as the bridge will also stride one of the main access routes of the Chinese Army into India from Tibet.

Tensions between India and China remain high in the highly volatile region despite not a single bullet being fired by both sides.

Bhutan rejects Beijing's claim that Doklam belongs to China

In 2017, ties between New Delhi and Beijing flared up when China tried to construct a road in Doklam, to which India (a strategic ally of Bhutan) objected. Doklam, with an area of over less than a 100 sq km comprises of a plateau and a valley and falls at the trijunction between India, Bhutan and China.

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This resulted in a military standoff between two nuclear-armed nations that lasted for about 2 months, making headlines for being the greatest flare-up between India and China post the Indo-China War of 1962.

Many defence analysts believe that China’s deep interest in the Doklam region lies due to the commanding view and easy access to both the Chumbi Valley of Bhutan and the Siliguri Corridor of India.

China, already upset with India’s recent tightening of the law on foreign investment described it “discriminatory” as a new Indian rule that mandates companies from “border-sharing countries” to seek government approval before making investments in the country.

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In the mission of development of remote border areas, India under the Modi government has been rapidly developing infrastructure projects in the region. It has completed 74 strategic roads along the eastern border and has plans laid out to finish 20 more by the next year.

The successful completion of the bridge in the times of COVID-19 by the Border Roads Organisation will help to reduce the time taken to move men and material by half and help the villages in remote areas to battle the deadly virus.

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