In the last few days, China has upped its aggressive posturing over Doklam or Doka La (as India officially calls it) standoff. Chinese government officials, state-owned China Daily and Communist Party of China-owned Global Times have increased decibel on rhetoric.
Chinese deputy director general of Boundary and Ocean Affairs Wang Wenli threatened to invade Kashmir and Uttarakhand where India’s boundary with China’s coincide with a third country – Pakistan and Nepal.
China Daily said that the countdown to a military clash with India had begun. It used phrases like “clock is ticking away” and “India will only have itself to blame” for the outcome of the war.
But, on the ground at Doklam, things seem to be different. Reports from the standoff zone at Doklam suggest that India and China are moving towards a resolution of the ongoing impasse. The two sides are reported to be discussing the repositioning of troops.
AT THE GROUND ZERO
According to reports from Doklam, China has agreed to pull back its troops 100 metres from the standoff point. The Indian side is said to be insisting that China should move back its troops 250 metre from the standoff point at Doklam before Indian troops withdraw.
Chinese side, on the hand, has said that pulling back 100 metre should be fine and Indian soldiers should go back to their previous position. These reports indicate that both India and China are working for an honourable exit from the Doklam standoff.
At the same time, China has officially denied plan to move back its troops, according to a Global Times report, which quoted an anonymous official.
There are parallel reports that Chinese PLA has stationed around 300-400 troops in tents put up about a kilometre from the Doklam standoff point. India, on the other hand, is reported to have asked its Sukna-based 33 Corps to be in the state of full preparedness and wait for orders if reinforcement at Doklam or Doka La is required.
A PTI report quoted an official source as saying that Indian Army was in a ‘no war, no peace’ mode against the Chinese military in Doklam.
The ‘no war, no peace’ mode between Indian and Chinese troops is going on for nearly two months. It began on June 1 when the PLA asked the Indian Army to remove two bunkers that the India had set up in 2012 at Lalten area of Doka La – known as Doklam in Bhutan and Donglong in China.
For many years before setting up the bunkers in 2012, the Indian Army had been patrolling the area. It was done as measure to smoothen the routine border operations in the region and provide security to Bhutan-China border.
The forward positions of the Indian Army informed the 33 Corps Headquarters at Sukna about the Chinese demand. Meanwhile, on the night of June 6, the Chinese troops came with two bulldozers and demolished the bunkers. They claimed that the area belonged to China and Indian or Bhutanese forces could not patrol there.
This claim was reportedly laid by the Chinese for the first time and it came four years after Indian Army set up the bunkers at the site. The Chinese troops met with resistance from Indian side. The Indian troops on the ground prevented the Chinese soldiers and machines from doing any further damage or transgressing into the area.
More Indian troops from brigade headquarters, located 20 km from the site of Doklam standoff, were pushed in on June 8 when a scuffle took place between the two sides. The status quo continues at the ground despite Chinese media and its leaders invariably raising pitch over the Doklam issue.
The Doklam standoff is, however, the longest military impasse between India and China since 1962. The last one was seen in 2013 when Indian and Chinese armies stood at Daulat Beg Oldie in Ladakh. Chinese troops had entered 30 km into Indian territory till the Depsang Plains claiming it belonged to Chinese province of Xinjiang. Later, they were pushed back.