Doklam Standoff between India & China ends before BRICS Summit
By Sangeeta Saxena
New Delhi. 28 August 2017. It took just a three lined press statement by the Ministry of External Affairs on their website to put an end to the more than two months old Doklam standoff between the Indian and Chinese armies. It said , “in recent weeks, India and China have maintained diplomatic communication in respect of the incident at Doklam. During these communications, we were able to express our views and convey our concerns and interests. On this basis, expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site at Doklam has been agreed to and is on-going.” And India calls it the Doklam Disengagement Understanding. But no regulations of this disengagement have been released by either of the neighbours.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying’s in the Regular Press Conference answering to a question on the standoff having come to an end stated, ” At about 2:30 p.m. of August 28, the Indian side withdrew all its border personnel and equipment that were illegally on the Chinese territory to the Indian side. The Chinese personnel onsite have verified this situation. China will continue fulfilling its sovereign rights to safeguard territorial sovereignty in compliance with the stipulations of the border-related historical treaty. The Chinese government attaches importance to developing good neighborly and friendly relations with India. We hope that India could earnestly honor the border-related historical treaty as well as the basic principles of international law and work with China to preserve peace and stability in the border area and promote the sound development of bilateral relations on the basis of mutual respect for each other’s territorial sovereignty.I am pleased to confirm that the Indian border personnel and equipment have all been withdrawn to the Indian side of the border.”
To this question – The Indian government’s announcement is that there is a “mutual disengagement” of the troops between the two countries. You haven’t mentioned the pullback of the Chinese troops. You mentioned only the pullback of the Indian troops. How do you explain?- the spokesperson replied, “The Chinese side has made it clear that the Indian border personnel and equipment that trespassed into China’s territory have all been withdrawn to the Indian side of the border. The Chinese border troops continue with their patrols in the Dong Lang area. China will continue with its exercise of sovereign rights to protect territorial sovereignty in accordance with the stipulations of the border-related historical treaty.
She added, ” I have made myself very clear. In light of the changes on the ground, China will accordingly make necessary adjustments and deployment. I also stressed that the Chinese border troops will continue fulfilling the sovereignty rights to safeguard territorial sovereignty in compliance with the stipulations of the border-related historical treaty.We believe that it serves the interests of China and India to resolve this incident peacefully via diplomatic means. It also demonstrates China’s sincerity and attitude in preserving regional peace and stability as a responsible major country. The Chinese government values its good neighborly and friendly relations with India. We hope that India could earnestly abide by the border-related historical treaty and basic norms of international law and work with China to ensure peace and stability in the border area on the basis of mutual respect for each other’s territorial sovereignty, and to promote the healthy development of bilateral relations.” China has been doing this perception management right since the standoff began in Doklam. And now that it is supposedly over , it still wants an upper hand.
With the BRICS Summit knocking at the door, this came as an expected move and not a surprise. With China all set to host the summit , the million dollar question was will Modi attend or will he not. Not wanting the BRICS to stumble China probably put a step forth to bring about this disengagement. The BRICS summit – involving leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – in the coastal Chinese city of Xiamen from September 3-5 will now smoothen the track for Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and give both of them a chance for some behind-the-scenes interaction with Doklam’s shadow not looming large. Meanwhile India has proved that it is a friend in need to its friendly neighbours and will remain a friend indeed.