Monday, 10 July 2017

India China Border Dispute

Entering the Dragon - Taking the Global Bull(y) by the Horns

Indo China relations have remained an international paradox to say the least. With a common border of 3488 kilometers, a lot of which is "disputed" , it's not surprising that occasional skirmishes continue to happen. With a history of wars with both Pakistan and China, India sure knows how to pick it's neighbors.

The recent standoff between India and China in the Doklam Area of Bhutan, however appears to mark a significant shift in the changing global equations.

While conventional wisdom based on each country's policies and past actions would incline an observer to assign blame on China's expansionist policies and acknowledge India's policy of "Live and Let Live", this particular dispute is not without a subtle shift in global paradigm.

China has managed to get into border disputes with almost everyone. Besides India, 17 other countries like  Japan, Vietnam, North Korea, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Tajikistan are involved in some dispute or the other with China. By laying claim to the islands in the South China Sea and not pressuring North Korea enough to abandon it's nuclear and missile development program, China has managed to antagonize the United States as well. The only reason China doesn't seem to have a dispute with Pakistan (at least for now) is because Pakistan appears to willingly hand over strategic territory to China in the hope of retaining at least one ally when almost the whole world frowns upon it for it's long list of percieved rogue activities.China's apparently forced accession of Tibet is also a well known fact.

The current dispute between India and China is marked with aberrations which are evident on close scrutiny.

1] The element of paradox introduces itself with Indian media and businessmen buying and promoting Chinese goods aggressively on one side while also being engaged in disputes with China on the other. 

So it was rather ironical to watch Indian news anchors hosting debates criticizing China's aggressive statements on the recent border dispute interspersed with advertisements urging Indians to purchase Chinese made HTC and Xiaomi phones.

Chinese media, on the other hand has not been so benevolent. In article after article, it exhorts upon the Chinese people to punish India and continues with it's anti India rhetoric.

2] Equally amusing were the smiles and handshakes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, during an informal meeting at the recently held meeting of Group of 20 Nations.This was despite the fact that the Chinese Foreign Ministry had categorically mentioned that the "atmosphere" was not conducive for talks, while the Ministry of External Affairs of India had clarified that no such meeting had been sought.Both leaders also had words of praise for the work done by their counterparts.

3] While the real issues of most border disputes usually remain in the domain of uncertainty, this time, all parties have at least acknowledged that India has positioned its troops beyond its borders, in disputed land at the behest of Bhutan, who fears that China is encroaching into disputed area. India has reiterated that it fears that the process of building roads in the Doklam area by China, brings is dangerously close to India's "Chicken's Neck" a narrow strip of land which connects the rest of India to the North East. So this time at least, it is clear that Indian and Chinese troops have entered a disputed area and India is doing so both at the best of Bhutan and as a preventive measure of safe guarding it's own interests. Given India's long standing passive policy in the past, this appears to be a distinct shift in India's posturing.

4] China's immediate official reaction after the face off with the Indian troops was refusing entry to Indian Pilgrims who travel to Kailash Mansarovar through the Nathu La pass in Sikkim.But China still kept the other route via Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhan open. While the route through Nathu La was more convenient, people were already undertaking the journey to Kailash Mansarovar through the Lipulekh pass even though it is more difficult with Pilgrims having to trek and travel on ponies.

5] Chinese and Bhutanese envoys met with Rahul Gandhi, Vice President of the Congress Party in India. Yet both the Chinese Government and the Congress initially tried to deny this meeting took place before finally accepting it.

While China has been asking for immediate withdrawal of troops, Indian Soldiers have pitched in their tents with steady supply lines, ready to stay there for the long haul.

China has resorted to some aggressive posturing by conducting military exercises with its latest tanks near the area. It has also positioned its ships and submarines in the Indian Ocean, as India conducts it's Malabar joint Naval exercises along with the US and Japan.


Both nations have show strategic restraint and calibrated responses to this situation. While India is being questioned by China regarding it's authority to "interfere" in a matter between Bhutan and China, the Chinese would also need to explain why they are so adamant to construct a road in a disputed territory, in a barren land so close to India's borders. 

The solution will have to be one that allows both leaderships to look good to their respective countrymen and a military engagement with both sides bloodied will certainly not do that.



  1. You guys seriously need the US to help you out.

  2. Prithvi Kapoor15 July 2017 at 06:22

    Dont forget China is NOT a democracy. So its main aim will be to undermine Modiji's reputation so that India elects a weak prime minister. We must be cautious against this.

  3. Both China and India have there weaknesses. But globally China can enhance its prestige by playing Big brother and resolve things through diplomacy. It has already antagonized neighbors like Japan and in todays world you cant take on everybody

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Thanks for the comment. While one can understand China's compulsion to defend Pakistan, it's all weather ally, it is difficult to come up with a realistic explanation regarding China's rather sudden and timid retreat from the Doklam issue. I was expecting a more phased out compromise. With the media of both countries creating a narrative of their own country's victory, the real truth may take some time to emerge.

  6. @rottenmangoman it's a comment by a fake id @subhasanjeev (+SubhaSanjeev93) to post backlinks, but you did the right thing by disabling the hyperlink.

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  7. China can pulverize India in seconds and India knkws it. Rather than being humiliated publicly, Indian Prime Minister Modi did the right thing by withdrawing unilaterally.China will ultimately take over complete control of Doklam but graciously allow Indian media to report that nothing happened

  8. China always stands for peace.It is certainly not a bully. India should learn from its lessons from the past or it will have to be taught once again and this time it will be done so India remembers

  9. @Chan and @Aki you will soon get the taste of Ironman from Gujarat our Prime Minister Modi who will make sure you and porkistan always remember your father India

  10. India's strategic mistake is getting too close to the US at the expense of its long term ally Russia. Chinese and Russian superiority aircraft far outmach any US technology. India will realise this mistake in time to come

  11. World war 3 is not far away. Time to stock up on iodine

  12. The situation appears to have been resolved with both sides withdrawing. Then what was the point of entering into each other's domain in the first place?!! - bloody waste of time and taxpayer's money. Only generated pointless fodder news for media.A glorified WWE posturing

  13. CHINA WILL TEACH INDIA A LESSON: The Chinese military today criticised Army Chief General Bipin Rawat's recent remarks that Doklam is a disputed territory, asserting that it is very much part of China, and India should draw lessons from the 73-day standoff to avoid similar incidents in the future.

    Reacting for the first time to General Rawat's comments, Colonel Wu Qian, spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of Defence, told a media briefing that Doklam is part of China.