India should let Bhutan take the lead in negotiating with China on the disputed Doklam Plateau and other disputed territories instead of getting involved itself, the CPI-M has said. An editorial in the CPI-M journal People’s Democracy has also blamed India’s growing strategic ties with the US for the deteriorating relations with China. The standoff between India and China on the Doklam Plateau, adjoining the tri-junction between India, China and Bhutan, is now a month-old and shows no signs of ending. The Communist Party of India-Marxist said the issue “has assumed more serious proportions… because of the deterioration in the overall relations” between India and China.
But it noted that the present dispute did not pertain to any border area between China and India. “The Modi government must realise that there is no alternative to settling the recurring disagreements on the border except through negotiations,” the editorial said. “It is also important to keep in mind that Bhutan is the main party in the dispute. Bhutan is not a ‘protectorate’ of India. “It must be underlined that Bhutan has been negotiating with China directly on its border issues since 1984. “It is better that India let Bhutan take the lead in negotiating with China on the Doklam Plateau and other disputed territories. India can lend support to Bhutan’s position.”
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The CPI-M said the present border fracas had assumed greater salience because Sino-Indian differences had aggravated since the Modi government took power.”The prime factor contributing to this divergence is India’s strategic alliance with the US. India has joined the US in its strategic designs in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region which is aimed at containing China. “India has openly sided with the US position on the South China Sea; India has opposed the Belt and Road Initiative.
“Within the country, the Modi government has increased the profile of the Dalai Lama and the so-called Tibetan provisional government (which) are serious irritants for China.” The editorial said India saw China as a stumbling block in its bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group and Beijing had not helped to get Pakistan-based Masood Azhar on the terrorist list notified by the UN. “The erosion of trust and mutual confidence has contributed to the present tensions related to Doklam.”
The CPI-M quoted Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar as saying that India and China must not allow differences to become disputes. “It will be good if this approach is put into practice by the Modi government,” it said. “Extraneous factors must not be allowed to interfere in the quest for better relations between the two neighbours in Asia.”