A month-long India-China standoff in the tangled mountains of the Himalayas threatens to snowball into conflict. The circumstances are enveloped in thick fog endemic to those remote mountains at 10000 feet above sea level – and to the complicated India-China relationship.
An analogy could be that China’s People’s Liberation Army units come down to the Siachen area, which is under India’s control, to advance Pakistan’s territorial claim, which Beijing also considers to be of strategic significance due to its proximity to Karakorum Highway and Xinjiang region. This needs some explanation.
For a start, the location of the standoff is Doklam Plateau, which has been in China’s control on which Bhutan made a territorial claim only in 2000. (India drew Bhutan’s maps in the sixties, including the portion showing Doklam as Bhutanese territory.)
The PLA has been undertaking infrastructure development in Dloklam but Indian military has chosen to contest the latest phase of road-building activity. Notionally, Delhi is acting at the request of Bhutan. (Bhutan says very little on the entire affair.)
The Indian-establishment commentators have claimed that the road under construction in Doklam may improve PLA’s access to the ‘tri-junction’ that separates India’s state of Sikkim, Bhutan and China – in turn, bringing China’s military presence closer to the so-called Siliguri Corridor that connects India’s restive north-eastern states with the Indian ‘mainland’.
There are sub-plots. The delimited border (demarcated with boundary pillars) between the Indian state of Sikkim and Tibet is the only settled segment of the 4000-kilometre long India-China border. Both countries accept the border defined under the Anglo-Chinese Convention of 1890.
At this point, the fog thickens. The 1890 convention accurately depicts the ‘tri-junction’ between India (Sikkim), Bhutan and China, in terms of which the current arena of standoff (Doklam) comes under China. But then, Bhutan was not party to the 1890 convention……More Here