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Starting in June, a tiny piece of strategically important and until-now obscure Himalayan territory sitting at the intersection of India, China, and Bhutan became the site of the one of the most serious border standoffs between New Delhi and Beijing in three decades.
As of July 12,the standoff continues, with no end in sight. Nearly one month after the standoff began, details about the geography of the area and the motivations of all three governments involved remain murky. On both sides, suggestions of a new war or military skirmish between the two nuclear-armed Asian neighbors, both with populations in excess of 1 billion, are slowly becoming less taboo, highlighting the potential for serious escalation.
Unfortunately, nearly everything else about the terrain under contention and the events that initiated the standoff remains unclear. India, perceiving this as an unacceptable change to the status quo with potentially serious strategic ramificationscrossed a settled and undisputed international border with its troops to block the PLA contingent from proceeding.
The Chinese government was apoplectic about what it saw as an Indian incursion across a settled border into Chinese territory in reality, disputed with Bhutan and has given an ultimatum to New Delhi that no diplomatic solution can be found until Indian troops unilaterally withdraw from what Beijing sees as Chinese territory.
India, in the meantime, is not budging. Both sides are gridlocked and tensions are rising.
- North east India includes the seven sister states of Arunachal Pradesh , Assam , Meghalaya , Tripura , Mizoram , Manipur and Nagaland.
- The bordering countries are clearly shown on the India political map.
- Complicating matters, however, the Indian interpretation of the convention differs from the Chinese one in an important way and appears to be supported by geographic realities.
Click here to subscribe for full access. The Doklam essay on poverty problem in india region. The area shaded in red is disputed between Bhutan and China.
With neither side seeing a face-saving off-ramp option, the potential for escalation remains high. India is surrounded by Afghanistan and Pakistan in the north-western side, China, Nepal and Tibet on the north-eastern side, Bangladesh and Myanmar in the eastern side and Sri Lanka in the southern side. The bordering countries are clearly shown on the India political map. North east India includes the seven sister states of Arunachal PradeshAssamMeghalayaTripuraMizoramManipur and Nagaland. As of July 12,the standoff continues, with no end in sight. The six states of North India are:
The best place to begin in trying to understand the situation between India, China, and Bhutan at Doklam is the an overview of the terrain in question, which had never made international headlines before this summer. First of all, the area in question — shown shaded in red in the map above — is not what most maps will label as the Doklam plateau, a better-known piece of disputed territory between Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan kingdom of less than a million people, and China.
Instead, the area is perhaps best disambiguated from the plateau by referring to it as the Doklam triboundary or Doklam triborder area also sometimes known as the Dolam Plateau. At the core of the dispute is the question of where the final triboundary point — the point at which India, China, and Bhutan meet — lies.
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Both India and China agree that while they have disputed borders in Arunachal Pradesh and in Kashmir, the Sikkim sector border has long been a settled matter. Thus, this standoff is not and never was about a disputed border between India and China.
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This, in the Chinese viewmakes it different from recent high-profile border incidents between the two countries in at Depsang and in at Chumar, both sites near their mutually recognized Line of Actual Control. Despite the tense situation between India and China, the border dispute in question that complicates the triboundary question is between Bhutan and China. The two countries, who do not have official diplomatic ties, have held 24 rounds of diplomatic talks over their various border disputes. Despite these long-running talks, the Doklam triboundary area dispute had been one of the lower-profile boundary disputes between Thimphu and Beijing.
East India, West India, North India, South India, Northeast India and Central India. Karol Bagh, Mahrauli, Palam, Kalkaji, Shakarpur and Paharganj are some of the city areas located in the Indian capital. India is located in southern Asia with Bay of Bengal on its eastern side and Arabian Sea on its western side. There is great ethnic and religious diversity within the states. Nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi heads a campaign of non-violent protest against British rule which eventually leads to independence. Southern India covers states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana with the union territories of Lakshadweep and Puducherry. Click here to subscribe for full access. Both countries have given relative priority to other disputed sectors in their talks, including the Doklam Plateau, which sits farther poliitical, sandwiched between the Chumbi Valley and the rest of Bhutan. As of July 12,the standoff continues, with no end in politicla.
Both countries have given relative priority to other disputed sectors in their talks, including the Doklam Plateau, which sits farther north, sandwiched between the Chumbi Valley and the rest of Bhutan. The Bhutan-China border, once settled in this sector, would meet the Indian border at a perpendicular angle, east-to-west, and finalize the triboundary point between the three countries.
Bhutan claims that the triboundary point lies at a location known as Batang-la, some four kilometers north of the Doka La pass where the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops is ongoing. Mount Gipmochi marks the terminus at the Indian border of what New Delhi regards please click for source a strategic redline: As with so many Himalayan border questions, the outstanding triboundary question in the Doklam sector appears to be a relic of 19th century survey work that informed an convention between British India and the Qing dynasty.
The convention settled the border between the then-independent kingdom of Sikkim, which was a British protectorate, and Tibet. The text in Article I of this convention has been the subject of intense hermeneutics in the aftermath of the dispute: The boundary of Sikkim and Tibet shall be the crest of the mountain range separating the waters flowing into the Sikkim Teesta and its affluents from the waters flowing into the Tibetan Mochu and northwards into other rivers of Tibet.
The line commences at Mount Gimpochi on the Bhutan frontier, and follows the above-mentioned water-parting to the point where it meets Nipal territory.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has recited these lines to support its claim that Mount Gipmochi, the aforementioned point some two-and-a-half kilometers south of the Doka La site, is the rightful triboundary point. Beijing takes this to mean that the convention remained in force under India as the successor state to British India and denoted the triboundary point, even if Bhutan was not a party to the convention. To explain its claim, the Chinese Foreign Ministry released its own map of the area, shown below. The blue arrow shows the location of the Indian Army crossing and the mountain shown at the trijunction point is Mount Gipmochi.
Neither the Indian nor Bhutanese governments have released authoritative maps highlighting their interpretation of the triboundary point.
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A Chinese Foreign Ministry map of the disputed region. Complicating matters, however, the Indian interpretation of the convention differs from the Chinese one in an important way and appears to be supported by geographic realities. An overview of the crest of the mountain range linking Batang-la to Nepal, which is referenced in the Anglo-Chinese convention. In the case of Doklam, there is indeed a continuous ridgeline that runs from the current triboundary point between India, Nepal, and China to the area at the center of the current standoff.
But here we are, more than years after the convention, with Indian and Chinese troops facing off at the Doklam triboundary area. As fascinating as the geographic contours of this crisis might be and as important as they may be to understanding the stakes, there is a slim chance that New Delhi and Beijing will settle this by coming to a mutual understanding about the shoddy survey work of the lateth century cartographers who informed the Anglo-Chinese convention.
The Bhutanese Foreign Ministry released a statement in late June clarifying its position. The statement provided an interesting third-party view of the Doklam standoff and did not mention India at all.
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It offered the following assessment of what transpired in mid June: The updated treaty, nevertheless, notes the following: Essay on political map of india, the Bhutanese note that the construction began from the Doko La pass. Whatever happened in mid June, it likely involved plans to add a southward motorable extension to that road, but evidence of this kind of work is not visible in more recent imagery. This is corroborated by more recent reporting out of India as well.
June 23, imagery showing possible PLA structures near the Doko La terminus of the track, which has existed since at least Satellite imagery from June 23 essay on political map of india shows signatures of possible human structures near the road, but does not show any clear evidence of successful PLA construction of a motorable road.
More recent satellite imagery suggests that the track to Doko La may have also previously improved prior to Junebut that assessment is inconclusive. An overview of the disputed area east of Doko La, highlighting possible Royal Bhutanese Army camps in relation to the Chinese road. The Zompelri also romanized as Jampheri camp of the Royal Bhutan Army is not labeled on any publicly available maps, but a few structures labeled above visible in commercial satellite imagery, about 1 kilometer south east of the Chinese road, are possible candidates for the location of these camps as they are the only significant human structures south of the Chinese road and east of the Indian border.
The above catalogue of the geographic details and the chronology of events in mid June may seem detailed, but fails to answer several questions about the origins of this standoff. Given that both the Indian and Chinese governments have carefully managed their public messaging and prevented any substantial leaks of the on-the-ground situation to the media, answering these questions will require looking beyond what is visible on maps, in satellite imagery, and in government statements.
Ultimately, the origins of this standoff are rooted in simmering tensions about where India and China stand as rivalrous Asian powers in the second decade of the 21st century and realpolitik considerations in both New Delhi and Beijing. This is where matters diverge from the geographic and historical details outlined above. Not only are Chinese and Indian perceptions of facts on the ground and the status quo widely divergent, but a series of developments in recent years have underlined that their paths in Asia are destined to diverge.
With neither side seeing a face-saving off-ramp option, the potential for escalation remains high. Follow him on Twitter at nktpnd.