These threats make the Chinese climbdown very significant … The message that goes to smaller countries is that China might not back its threats with substantial action. While the Chinese retreat can encourage smaller countries to look it in the eye, it will also give India an aura of a regional power … Effectively, disengagement means China has been beaten back by India. The Indian withdrawal is an admission by New Delhi that it had no legal justification for its military presence in Doklam.
Beijing had warned India that it regarded the presence of Indian troops in Doklam as an act of aggression, not once, but four times in the past six weeks — in a 15 page statement of its legal position issued in July, in a formal demand by foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on August 22 that said India must remove its troops from the Doklam side of the watershed as a prerequisite for peace, and in two categorical statements by its ambassador in Delhi following these declarations.
What, then, is the compromise that has enabled both countries to back off? It is, at best, a draw. On the other hand, should Delhi ever overcome it, Nathu La can become a major asset in building a durable relationship of mutual benefit with China. To start with, Nathu La is at an altitude of metres, almost 14, feet above sea level and is snow-bound for at least four months of the year.
This means that any force that crosses it to the Indian side, runs the risk of getting stuck there for up to four months at the mercy of whatever India chooses to throw at it. Third, the distance from Nathu La to Kalimpong on the West Bengal border is kms and an estimated five hours in a passenger car. There are innumerable bridges, culverts and tunnels on this road that can easily be blown up.
In the early s, it was India that drove the Chinese out of the Chumbi valley, using its newly acquired Bofors guns to fire over the Himalayan ridges down into it from distances of 40 kms and more. If anything, China has had more to fear from the worsening of relations between it and India, than India does. Today, the Doklam standoff has opened a route to the resolution of the long simmering Himalayan border dispute that had been closed by the failure of Chinese premier Chou Enlai to establish common ground with Jawaharlal Nehru during his visit to India in and the war.
By re-opening this possibility within a framework of increased intra-BRICS cooperation at Xiamen next week, Narendra Modi can turn the present draw into victory for both countries. Whether he has the sagacity to do so remains to be seen. All texts are licensed under CC by-nc-sa 3. CV Books Articles Blog. Foreign Policy , International Issues.
Can Modi turn the present draw into a victory for both India and China? About Hi, my name is Prem Shankar Jha. I am a journalist and author based in New Delhi, India. In the last decade I have become more and more concerned about where the world is heading and I am curious to explore interactive formats with you in order to share views and concerns.
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