Sushma- Dorji meeting is a message to China, if it still needs one. Beijing’s strategic egg-heads are not ignoramus as not to visualise Indian response to any Chinese action in Doklam that appears to go against the provisions of the India-Bhutan Treaty.
China’s dream of creating a wedge between India and Bhutan, which enjoy a historical special security partnership has come to a naught with the two countries categorically stating that they are on the same page amid the ongoing Doklam stand-off.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her Bhutanese counterpart Damcho Dorji have reaffirmed India-Bhutan special relationship in their interaction in the Nepalese capital on Aug 12. The two leaders were in Kathmandu to attend a meeting of BIMSTEC foreign ministers.
Sushma- Dorji meeting is a message to China, if it still needs one.
“We hope the current stand-off in Doklam will be sorted out peacefully. Both sides should be satisfied with the outcome,” Dorji told reporters after the meeting.
Only two days back (Aug 10), the Bhutan government rejected Chain’s claims on Doklam. Thimphu also denied that it had relinquished claim or control over Doklam.
“Our position on the border issue of Doklam is very clear. Please refer to our statement which has been published on the web site of Bhutan’s foreign ministry on June 29, 2017”, said Thimphu outright rejecting a Chinese foreign ministry claim that Bhutan had conveyed through diplomatic channels to China that the trilateral border stand-off area in Doklam in the Sikkim sector is not its territory.
The June 29th statement noted that Thimphu has conveyed to the Chinese side, both on the ground and through the diplomatic channel, that the construction of the (motorable) road inside Bhutanese territory is a direct violation of the (written) agreements (of 1988 and 1998) and affects the process of demarcating the boundary between our two countries”.
Wang Wenli, the Deputy Director General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs in China’s foreign ministry made the controversial assertion, while talking to a visiting Indian media team this week. She did not provide any evidence to buttress her claim.
Wang did not provide any evidence of her claim. She did however admit that Bhutan had protested to the Chinese government on June 16th itself against the Chinese road construction activity in the Doklam area. The Chinese Army is attempting to construct the motorable road from Dokola in the Doklam area towards the Bhutan Army camp at Zompelri.
“This was a unilateral action that needed to be stopped immediately pending settlement of the boundary issue,” the Bhutanese foreign ministry statement had said, and called for status quo in the Doklam area as before 16 June 2017.
It is this work of laying a road that has resulted in the on-going face-off between Indian and Chinese troops
India holds the view that the planned Chinese road would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for New Delhi. It has conveyed its concern to Beijing, and made it clear that both sides should first pull back their troops for any talks to take place. This proposition is not acceptable to China as yet.
By its actions, China appears to be objecting the right of India to have a security agreement with Bhutan. Its argument has not cut ice with the international community. It is because Beijing – Pyongyang relations are governed by such an arrangement.
Anyhow China’s contention that India has entered Chinese territory is bogus. Firstly it is not Chinese territory. Secondly and more importantly, China has itself acknowledged its dispute with Bhutan over Doklam. Beijing’s strategic egg-heads are not ignoramus as not to visualise Indian response to any Chinese action that appears to go against the provisions of the India-Bhutan Treaty. Anyhow Chinese military infrastructure in Doklam is bound to create security worries to India since the disputed area is not too far away from the Chicken’s neck that connects Northeast India with the mainland.
Will Edwards, an Asia-Pacific and defense analyst at the Cipher Brief, recently wrote that the Chinese road could have serious strategic implications for India’s defence of its home territory due to a geographic feature that leaves India vulnerable.
“Allowing the Chinese road project to continue could provide Beijing with an avenue for its troops to strike the ‘Chicken’s Neck’, a narrow strip of land connecting India’s northeastern states to the rest of the country that could be severed in the event of conflict,” he wrote.
Against this backdrop, Sushma Swaraj – Dorji meeting took stock of the bilateral ties on the sidelines of BIMSEC foreign ministers’ conclave. BIMSTEC has taken shape as a regional forum for cooperation at the behest of India after SAARC became a hostage to Pakistan’s anti-India plank and failed to realise its potential.
“Time with a close friend and neighbour. The external affairs minister meets with foreign minister of Bhutan Damcho Dorji on the sidelines of BIMSTEC foreign ministers meet,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
– Poreg team