The Doklam plateau that is located in the vicinity of Bhutan, India, and China has been the eye of the storm in recent days. China and Bhutan have been embroiled in border disputes since time immemorial. The Chinese government did not even consider Bhutan a sovereign state until the year 1998. According to them, Bhutan is one of the 5 fingers of Tibet – the others being Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nepal, and Ladakh. It was only in the 1990s when the liberalization of India was taking place that China conceded to resolving the border-related disputes.
The Chinese offered to part with disputed regions in its Northern region for a small portion of the Doklam plateau. There have been numerous discussions on these proposals since then. India has been the keen watchdog on the latest updates of these negotiations.
India has reason to worry if the Chinese government usurps Doklam because this area is nearby India’s Siliguri Corridor, also referred to as the Chicken’s Neck’, and is crucial in linking the states of North East to the remainder of India. By developing infrastructure in these provinces, China will be at an advantageous position whilst India will be put on the back foot. In the past, the Chinese have tried to invade these territories and were forced to back down.
In 1962, the Indo-China war took place and the Chinese reigned supreme. However, in the years 1967 and 1986 Indian forces have managed to overpower China’s People Liberation Army (PLA). Since the year 1998, China has constructed roads and they plan to build a highway for gaining strategic advantage in the Doklam region.
Any attempt by the PLA to extend their reach to the Chumbi Valley is going to be countered by India. Indian troops can be sent from the parts of Sikkim for counter-attacking the enemy. India has an advantage in this region because their armies are situated at higher altitudes. As a result, China is encouraging Bhutan to hold diplomatic talks. Beijing has also accused India of meddling in the affairs of a third party for altering the border. Nevertheless, India has said that they share congenial relations with Bhutan.
India and Bhutan have a friendly association, and both countries have signed treaties to co-operate with each other on issues concerning national security. As part of these agreements, the responsibility falls on India to defend Bhutan against any antagonist activities. Hence, in the previous month, when India was approached by Bhutan for help in withdrawing the Chinese Army when they started making inroads into Bhutanese territory, Indian forces came into action and stopped China from building networks.
Video Credit: Youtube Channel Bisbo
Similar maps are shared by India and Bhutan pertaining to the borders demarcating China. The Chinese forces, on the other hand, follow different maps. As a result, the claims of China and India are bound to differ. The Chinese consider the tri-junction territory to be Gyemochen: according to India, their maps indicate the tri-junction to be Batalang La, which is situated towards the Northern part of Gyemochen.
At Batalang La, there is the massive deployment of armed forces due to which China is rendered unable to occupy the terrain. They have made several attempts but have not been successful. It has also been their endeavour to reduce India’s influence over Bhutan. Ironically, Bhutan is China’s only neighbouring country with which they do not hold diplomatic talks.
There is the talk of an impending war that can cause destruction on a large scale. Moreover, Indo-China trade will be affected. Incidentally, India provides a large market for Chinese goods. Chinese-made electronic goods are extremely popular in India. Additionally, stationery items are also used by children in Indian schools. Moreover, various household items that are ‘Made in China’ have gained popularity in Indian homes. We can only hope that the matter is resolved amicably and peace prevails in the region.