1. Sikkim standoff: What next in the India, China, Bhutan trijunction controversy

Sikkim standoff: What next in the India, China, Bhutan trijunction controversy

Twenty-eight days have passed since the standoff between India and China started on June 16 over the construction of a road by the latter in Dokalam area near the Bhutan trijunction.

By: | New Delhi | Updated: July 14, 2017 4:26 PM
China, India, Bhutan, trijunction, Sikkim standoff, army, soldiers, Dokalam, Jampheri Ridge, Northeast India History tells most standoffs like Chumar incursion in 2014 and Depsang incident 2013 have been resolved by diplomatic means. (PTI)

Twenty-eight days have passed since the standoff between India and China started on June 16 over the construction of a road by the latter in Dokalam area near the Bhutan trijunction. Considering India’s chicken’s neck — way to Northeast India– the area adjacent to the trijunction is strategically important for India. India has deployed over 300 soldiers in the area to pitch tents opposite the slightly smaller Chinese military unit, according to a report by Indian Express. With only 100-150 metres of land in between separating the Armies of the two most powerful Asian countries, know the possible scenarios that may come to pass:

Possibility 1: India withdraws its security forces, China continues with the construction of road:
The Chinese have been demanding this very aggressively. They argue that Indian soldiers barged into the Chinese territory while India says that it the territory of Bhutan and asked China to back off from the area prior to any talks. But analyzing the Chinese threat after building road to the Jampheri Ridge there is a little chance that India will unilaterally withdraw its forces. As there is absolutely no problem on the supply side– food, logistics– and turnover of soldiers, which can force India to back off, the report added. Also back off means loss of face for New Delhi.

So, the situation seems to be unlikely.

Possibility 2: China withdraws its army unilaterally, India stays back

The demand is totally opposite to the first one. Here India says China must stop the construction of road and withdraw its forces from the area unilaterally. But looking at the Chinese reaction it doesn’t seem that it is ready to walk away. The Chinese army, which is only two kilometers short of Jampheri Ridge, and already south of the Batang La pass, seems to have been emboldened by India’s claims on the trijunction of borders, the report added. There is no reason for Indian army to stay on in Bhutanese territory, if China withdraws unilaterally. Here, a withdrawal would mean a loss of face for China.

This also seems to be unlikely.

Possibility 3: None of the sides back off
This situation will maintain the status quo of what happened back in 1987 when the two countries were face to face in the Sumdorong Chu valley in Arunachal Pradesh for several months. India, compared to before, has much better infrastructure and resources to sustain troops for a long time on Dolam plateau. Assuming Bhutan does not change its stance the stand off could be longer.

This situation is possible looking at the present scenario.

Possibility 4: Getting into diplomatic engagement and both sides withdraw

Prime Minister Modi had earlier said it is true that we have a border dispute with China. But in the last 40 years, not a single bullet has been fired because of the border dispute, according to PTI. History tells most standoffs like Chumar incursion in 2014 and Depsang incident 2013 have been resolved by diplomatic means. However, in earlier cases, the two sides did not resort to the kind of rhetoric that was heard in past few days, as per the report. Also, the Chinese did not lay off any preconditions talks as they have done now. Creative diplomacy can be the answer to find way ahead.

In the view of past event– incursions or stand off– records this is likely to take place.

Possibility 5: Escalation by China in other areas

Any escalation on the Dolam plateau can be suicidal for China. As Indian forces dominate the area, so China has not even dared to resume construction. India has no reason for any escalation as its limited aim is to prevent China from building the road. However, the Chinese could try to escalate–initiate a limited conflict– in other may be in Ladakh or the Northeast. But Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said, 2017 is not 1962 and China is also well aware of it, the report added.

Such situation is less likely to happen.

Possibility 6: A full-fledged war between India and China

Both the countries have the arsenal. But the possibility is looks outlandish.

  1. Kushal Kumar
    Jul 16, 2017 at 8:08 pm
    This Vedic astrology writer's alerts for more care and appropriate strategy for India during year 2017 in article " 2017 - an opportune year for India with major worrisome concerns in February-March and August-September" were issued widely to Indian news media last year in October - November 2016. While covering August -September or near about in year 2017 for India , the alert prediction reads like this : " AUGUST-SEPTEMBER OR NEAR ABOUT LOOKS TO BE PRESENTING WAR OR BIG TERROR , COULD ALSO BE THROUGH SEA". The place of India was indicated to be northern part like Leh Ladakh, which has come out to be somewhat indicative. This was with specific context of India only. Similar major worrisome concerns in the global context were expressed in this writer's article of 16 May 2017 - " Is World War III round the corner ?" - published in the Summer (June) 2017 issue of The Astrologer's Notebook , a quarterly print Newsletter from North Port , Florida.
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