True, Beijing has to be stared in the eye, but the solution lies in diplomacy
The stand-off between India and China over the Doklam plateau is the longest between the two countries in many years. Voices from Beijing suggest that the Chinese government has not been able to come to terms with the fact that Indian soldiers prevented the construction party of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to build a road in the plateau claimed by Bhutan. China has warned India to withdraw its troops and dismissed the contention that Doklam plateau belonged to Bhutan.
There have been some fierce exchanges between New Delhi and Beijing and going by the current state of affairs, there is no signal of softening of positions. New Delhi has made it clear that it cannot allow the construction of a road close to the tri-junction of Bhutan, India and China which has serious security implications for the region. Bhutan has also made it known to China that it had no business to construct road in the Doklam plateau. The Chinese response has been appalling and its foreign ministry is indulging in war mongering. It was Beijing which reminded India about the 1962 Indo-China war debacle. But defence minister Arun Jaitley rightly countered by sending a strong message that India of 2017 is different from India of 1962. Beijing has shot back by claiming that Beijing of 2017 is also not Beijing of 1962.
The Chinese media has gone a step ahead warning that a war is possible if India does not pull out its soldiers from Doklam. Over the years, Chinese troops have made frequent transgressions into Indian territory but these issues were sorted out through the established mechanisms to deal with such stand-offs.
Even the long stand-offs in Depsang in 2013 and Chumar and Demchok in 2014 were resolved without violating the border pacts. The Chinese foreign ministry cited historical evidence to stake claim on the Doklam plateau. Its official made a reference to the 1890 Sikkim-Tibet treaty to prove its point. But Beijing failed to learn its lessons from history. The Indian army taught a lesson to China in Sikkim in 1967, just five years after the 1962 war. The Indian army inflicted heavy casualties on the PLA during a similar stand-off.
China should stop playing regional bully and accept the fact that it cannot run over a small country like Bhutan without facing resistance from India. New Delhi is only protecting its interests as a change in the status quo will have wider security implications.
Beijing had to be stopped and India has just done that. The stand-off has been non-violent till now and it should stay like that as for the PLA it will not be easy to get the Indian troops to vacate their positions with force. India has a strong military presence in Sikkim and the northeast and it has built up impressive strength over the years.
Senior defence establishment officials point out that Beijing has to be stared in the eye but diplomacy should take over and resolve this stand-off. Beijing should respect the status quo and boundary pacts that have ensured no bullets have been fired on the Line of Actual (LAC) for years.
India has stood up to China in a big way. The Indian economy has out paced China and the threats from Beijing to stop Tibetan spiritual guru the Dalai Lama from visiting Arunachal Pradesh was ignored by New Delhi. China should realise that India has the capacity to respond to the aggression and the answer to end the current stand off is to maintain status quo.