The China-India border standoff has been going on for almost two months. China has made it clear that India’s withdrawal from the Doklam area is the precondition for talks, a justified and legitimate demand. But India has refused to pull back its troops. The longer the standoff, the more disadvantageous India’s position will be.
Perhaps aware of its illegal incursion, India has begun to find ways to save face. Oneindia, an Indian news site, claimed Saturday that India would withdraw if its troops are replaced by Bhutanese troops, citing “a highly placed source.” Since India is Bhutan’s protector, India’s withdrawal would mean stabbing Bhutan in the back and abandoning its ally, the report said.
However, Doklam is a border area between China and Bhutan and has nothing to do with India. It is India that crossed into the indisputable Chinese territory and stirred the current face-off. India appears to be confronting China for the sake of Bhutan, but New Delhi does not care about its Himalayan neighbor. It’s all about India’s strategic calculation.
India fears that it would be controlled more easily if China builds roads in the dagger-shaped area aimed at India’s vulnerable “chicken-neck” area of Siliguri. After the 1962 border war with China, India has always been jittery and wary of the activities on the Chinese side of the border.
India has been trying to deal with Bhutan like its annexation of Sikkim in 1975. It has manipulated Bhutan by virtue of the latter’s military and economic dependence on India. Nonetheless, Bhutan has tried to create an independent foreign policy and has sought to build diplomatic ties with China. The two countries have got along well and conducted 24 rounds of border negotiations. India is attempting to drag Bhutan into the standoff in the Doklam area after it failed to negotiate with China on behalf of Bhutan. Has New Delhi ever considered the will of Bhutan, an independent state? Does it really intend to protect Bhutan in this process? What selfish gains does India want to pursue?
China will make no concessions over the territorial issue nor will it yield to anyone when it comes to national security. It would be wise for India to pull back its troops as soon as possible, instead of just beating around the bush or bargaining with China in the name of Bhutan. None of these can help solve the problem.