It is true that as independent nation states India and China have never got along very well. Even putting aside the 1962 war, India and China have experienced bitter conflicts along the border area. Be it the Nathu La and Cho La clashes of 1967 or the 1987 Sino-Indian skirmish, both originated from a much similar situation of mere proximity issues and construction work hitches. The much analogous trend of the conflict originated at the Doklam region is, thus, worrisome.
A rather isolated stretch of land in between China and India suddenly became the focal point of international news. Now that there has been time to mull over things, the Chinese media’s ire is quite evident in its indignation at China’s supremacy being questioned and keeping an under lying threat for India simultaneously in newspapers as well as television channels. Initially, the world over, experts were dumbfounded as to what caused this extreme military response on both sides. A heated war of words and accusations of trespassing were hurled by the two sides at each other. But the need to be careful is crucial as the battle has waged for far less than verbal divergence. The clash erupted on the tri-junction among China-Sikkim-Bhutan regionally known as Doklam, though the Chinese call it Donglang. India objected the ongoing road construction by the People’s Liberation Army claiming encroachment and destruction of Indian military bunkers while the Chinese refused any intrusion and protested that they had been building the road wholly on their territory. Resultant, the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, a must stopover for both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims has been closed down by China.
Senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, Rajeswari Rajagopalan expressed scepticism on the location actually being the Sino-Indian border; while Mohan Guruswamy, chairman of Centre for Policy Alternatives Society, an Indian think tank, deciphers “a clear pattern” in the dispute in regard to both the country’s history of conflict. Though, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang has referred to the closure of the pilgrimage as an act of emergency measure rather than an act of further aggression on China’s part.
When both the Indian prime minister and the defence minister are taking aggressive stance on the issue, the external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj gave the message of need for bilateral talk and cooling off for both sides in the monsoon session of the Parliament right before leaving for the BIMSTEC summit where talks are underway between India and Bhutan – the third spoke of the wheel of dispute at Doklam. Though Global Times, the Chinese daily which happens to be the mouthpiece of the Chinese government promptly discarded Swaraj’s pacifying efforts as ‘lying’.
With an already unstable neighbour in North Korea whose consecutive Inter-continental ballistic missile testing has made the US furious and its neighbours wary, including China. The Chinese president Xi Jinping would not like to go to a full frontal war with India just now. Meanwhile, given the size of the People’s Liberation Army of China – including all its wings, be it navy, army or air force, India needs to heighten its technological expertise before it has a chance of being counted as a power with a legitimate chance to take down China – if need be. Mere political chest-thumping will only go so far.