The Doklam stand-off between India and China may have ended several weeks ago, but around 1,000 Peopleâ€™s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers still man the disputed Himalayan border region,
Over the summer, the world held its breath forÂ 10 weeks while the two most populous nations onÂ Earth deployed troops and butted heads overÂ a planned Chinese road throughÂ the disputed border region betweenÂ China and India’s alpine ally Bhutan. Just asÂ quickly asÂ the stand-off began, however, it ended withÂ both sides pulling back inÂ early September.
But a Sputnik report said, a Chinese contingent ofÂ troops still stands atÂ the border, less thanÂ 1,000 feet back fromÂ where the PLA had drawn upÂ their battle lines inÂ the summer. It’s unlikely their presence will cause another stand-off despiteÂ the soldiers likely being there toÂ support the same road-building effort that started the first stand-off.
“The PLA has a base not far fromÂ the site ofÂ the stand-off and several hundred soldiers are stationed there,” said Beijing-based military expert Zhou Chenming toÂ the South China Morning Post. “Usually they have work toÂ do inÂ the region, likeÂ building roads, so that is what they are probably doing asÂ there is still some time beforeÂ the snowy season.”
A week afterÂ the stand-off ended, duringÂ the BRICS summit inÂ China, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke forÂ an hour aboutÂ the standoff, withÂ both men vowing toÂ work toÂ ensure international incidents such asÂ the one inÂ Doklam do not recur.
Two days later, the Indian Financial Times reported that Chinese troops were remaining inÂ their tents and temporary structures, just 500 feet back fromÂ the previous line ofÂ stand-off.
The agreement betweenÂ the two nations was that Beijing would stop building the road and disengage their troops. They never ceded their claim onÂ their region or agreed toÂ fully withdraw.
The Chinese Defense Ministry refuses toÂ comment onÂ the matter. The Chinese Foreign Ministry, onÂ the other hand, said that “there is no dispute. The Chinese border forces have been patrolling inÂ the area ofÂ Donglang [to the Indians, Doklam], exercising their sovereign rights and safeguarding territorial sovereignty according toÂ the historical boundary.”
New Delhi also denied that there was anything amiss. “We have seen recent reports onÂ Doklam,” said Raveesh Kumar, a spokesman forÂ the Ministry ofÂ External Affairs. “There are no new developments atÂ the face-off site and its vicinity sinceÂ the August 28 disengagement. The status quo prevails inÂ this area. Any suggestion toÂ the contrary is incorrect.”
“There is a heavy presence ofÂ Chinese troops a few hundred meters away fromÂ the site ofÂ the stand-off, and they are likely toÂ remain atÂ least untilÂ the winter,” said Rajeev Rajan Chaturvedy, a researcher atÂ the Institute ofÂ South Asian Studies atÂ the National University ofÂ Singapore.
“I don’t think there has been any change atÂ the Doklam stand-off site, asÂ India still won’t allow any road construction work inÂ the disputed territory. However, I don’t see there being another stand-off, asÂ this time the Chinese troops are stationed a bit further back fromÂ the conflict site,” Chaturvedy said.