Doklam standoff: Narendra Modi govt wins diplomatic war with China, gets lauded. But what next?

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New Delhi | Updated: August 29, 2017 1:34:03 PM

Doklam standoff has been defused after a period of over two months.

doklam standoff, narendra modi, narendra modi china visit, brics summit, brics summit 2017, india china, doklam standoff ends, doklam standoff pics, sikkim standoff, india, chinaIn this Oct. 16, 2016, file photo, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands with leaders at the BRICS summit in Goa, India. India and China have agreed to pull back their troops from a face-off in the high Himalayas where China, India and Bhutan meet, signaling a thaw in the monthslong standoff, India’s government said Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. (AP Photo)

Doklam standoff has been defused after a period of over two months. On Monday, India announced New Delhi and Beijing have decided to disengage in the disputed territory. However, the decision to disengage may just be a temporary measure accepted by both countries for peace. Many questions remain and India cannot be fully assured that China would not create such, or even worse, the situation in the near future.

It is interesting to note here that the standoff was called off just around the time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit China to participate in the BRICS summit 2017. Months after India snubbed China by not participating in the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly doesn’t want any setback in the upcoming BRICS summit in his country. Reports say Xi wants to make the summit a grand success.

For now, it can be only speculated on whether BRICS summit was one of the reasons because of which China agreed with India to de-escalate the tension in Doklam. It may have played a role but both countries will have to go a long way to solve the dispute at the tri-junction. A report by ThePrint on Monday said there were at least three points of contentions between New Delhi and Beijing. While there couldn’t be any resolution of two issues, they agreed on the one, thus ending over two months of the standoff.

First, both countries disagreed on the 1890 agreement on Sikkim border. During the negotiations, while China questioned India’s sovereignty by bringing in the 1890 agreement by then British rulers, India put up its own understanding of history, resulting in a deadlock, according to the report.

Second, another deadlock came up when India brought up the 2012 understanding between special representatives that any dispute at the tri-junction would be resolved by an agreement between all three parties, including India, China, and Bhutan.

The third issue was the withdrawal of troops and disengagement in Doklam. Though China wanted India to withdraw without any precondition, India agreed to withdraw its troops after becoming assured that China would not resume road building in the region, The PrintReported.

While China has temporarily withdrawn its road construction equipment from the area, it has not given any public assurance about the road construction. The Indian Express reported a government source as saying that the troop withdrawal was “mutual” and “simultaneous” but “sequential”. It said the terms of the breakthrough is also under wraps.

All reports in Indian as well as in Chinese media today indicated that Doklam cloud is over but not permanently. As PM Modi visits China, it would be apt for the top leadership of both countries to have a dialogue on the issue for a permanent solution.

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