Global View

Tensions have unexpectedly de-escalated at the border between India and China

The confrontation between India and China in the Doklam border region ended after the countries decided to withdraw the troops from the area. They have reached an agreement on 28th of August 2017 as a result of weeks of sustained diplomacy.

The tensions started on 16th of June 2017, when the Chinese army started the construction of a road in the Doklam Plateau. The Indian soldiers entered the area in order to prevent the construction of the road in a zone of great strategic importance for India. In response, China also strengthened its presence in the area, the two countries engaged each 300 soldiers during the almost two months of confrontation.

The Doklam region represents a territory claimed by both sides. It is to be found in the border zone where the Kingdom of Bhutan, India and China meet. The territory was disputed for the first time during the 1962 war and it now officially belongs to Bhutan, India’s ally. The Plateau is disputed between Bhutan and China, despite the 1890s agreement through which the authority of Bhutan over it is recognized. Beijing claims that the Doklam Plateau is part of China’s territory and this gives it the right to build the road in the area.

The conflict between the two countries worsened during August 2017. China announced that it will accept a diplomatic solution only after India withdraws its border troops. Beijing argues that they have invaded the Doklam region and this is a violation of the international law. India also mentioned that it does not agree with an unilateral retreat of its troops from the area. More than that, New Delhi appreciated the construction of the road as a direct threat to its security.

The dispute between the two countries came on top of tense bilateral relations. India does not support the Belt and Road Chinese initiative and it is worried about the Chinese naval activity in the Indian Ocean. The weapons delivered to Pakistan by China represent an additional threat for India. On the other hand, Beijing does dislike the lack of Indian support as well as the collaboration between the latter and Washington. Also, China opposes India’s entry in the Nuclear Suppliers Group. NSG has 48 member states that aim to control the nuclear technology commerce and oppose its proliferation. The fact that the spiritual leader Dalai Lama lives in India is another reason the relations between the two countries are tense. The Buddhist leader left China six decades ago in order to save himself from the Chinese Army which wanted to put an end to the revolts in Tibet and his return can determine a new revolution..

BRICS Summit highlights the diplomatic rapprochement  between China and India. The BRICS member states, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, gathered in the Chinese city of Xiamen, at the beginning of September. The Chinese President, Xi Jinping, outlined that a healthy and stable relationship between China and India is in the interest of people from both countries. Avoiding to refer directly to the Doklam dispute, Xi Jinping mentioned that peace and development should be the solution. The meeting between the two leaders represents the first one to take place since the Doklam dispute has been put to an end.

 Both the Chinese president as well as the Indian Prime Minister, Narenda Modi, have decided to work together, in the future, in order to avoid the disputes in the border area. The two countries considered that it is necessary for their defense forces to maintain a close cooperation. Xi Jinping mentioned the need to work on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. The principles refer to a set of rules governing the relations between states and has been formulated for the first time in an agreement between India and China from 1954.


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