Current India China Stand Off …

Posted on July 4, 2017. Filed under: From a Services Career |


For the first time since 1967, there are serious tensions between China and India on the Sikkim border. The stand-off began early in June, days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Chinese premier Xi Jinping in Astana and hit the headlines ahead of his US visit. This does not seem to be mere coincidence – a clear pattern is now emerging.

However some light is peeping out from under the closed doors of the two militaries. At the farthest tip of the Chumbi Valley between Sikkim and Bhutan, the Chinese are building a road over the Doklam plains, in an area that is supposedly under Bhutan’s control but over which China has laid claim. Our military believes that China’s presence here will seriously threaten Indian concentrations and communications.

It doesn’t help much that the Chumbi Valley appears on the map like a dagger poised not only to rend asunder Sikkim and Bhutan, but also Assam and the North East from the rest of India.

So, the Indian Army wants to position itself to challenge the People Liberation Army’s dominance from the Doko-La or Doklam pass. There is nothing wrong in this, considering India and Bhutan have military ties. Clearly the two biggest armies in Asia are jockeying for positions of advantage. This is natural when there are huge concentrations of troops standing cheek by jowl and trust is low between the two governments.

More than 40 years after Sikkim formally became a part of India in 1975, China has still not unequivocally accepted the state as an integral part of IndiaChinese maps continue to show the Northeastern state as not part of India.

In this day, with both countries having strong militaries, it would be wise to forget such old notions and deal with realities.

Despite their growing economic and trade relations, both sides are deeply distrustful of each other. According to Beijing, India is playing an active role in forging an anti-China coalition with US, Japan, Australia and Vietnam to counter Beijing’s diplomatic, economic and military assertiveness.

Once again, there is need of a reality check. The 1962 war was 55 long years ago. As was 1911-’12, when the Tibetans drove the Chinese out of their country, bringing about the downfall of the Qing Empire. At that time, Chinese troops escaped to India through Nathu La, in present-day Sikkim.

USA, Japan and Australia are separated from China by vast oceans and enjoy a sense of security that India (and Vietnam) cannot. Both the Asian countries have large land borders with China and will feel the immediate consequences of an armed conflict. The US and Japan are too closely economically integrated with China to be taken as credible allies by India.

If India knows anything, it is that it stands alone.


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