Uncertainty engulfs India-China deal on Doklam dispute

Uncertainty engulfs India-China deal on Doklam dispute
This file photo taken on October 21, 2012 shows an Indian soldier keeping watch at Bumla Pass on the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh. (AFP)
Updated 30 August 2017

Uncertainty engulfs India-China deal on Doklam dispute

Uncertainty engulfs India-China deal on Doklam dispute

NEW DELHI: Details of a deal reached Monday between India and China to end the standoff in the Doklam border area remain ambiguous, raising more questions than answers, commentators said.
Tensions mounted in June when India sent troops to stop China building a road in the Doklam, a remote territory claimed by both China and Bhutan.
“Nowhere (did China actually confirm it is) going ahead with the road building; they are avoiding answers and maintaining they are doing so just to cater to the domestic audience,” Dhruva Jaishankar, fellow in foreign policy studies at Brookings India, told Arab News.
Jaishankar did however point out that while China is not carrying out any construction activity, it has not ruled out such works in the future.
While the Chinese side is claiming the upper hand in the deal, India is maintaining a stoic silence at an official level. It issued a brief statement earlier this week saying that the “expeditious disengagement of border personnel at ... Doklam has been agreed to and is ongoing.”
However, a section of the Indian media has been very vocal on the issue and called the deal a victory for India and a demonstration of its political leadership’s maturity.
An article in the Business Standard called the Doklam standoff deal “India’s greatest diplomatic victory in decades.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s statement on Tuesday added further ambiguity to the agreement. “China has long engaged in infrastructure development, including road construction in Doklam. We will take into consideration all factors, including weather, to make relevant construction plans according to the situation on the ground,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
A Chinese Army general was quoted by NDTV as saying that “the Chinese military will remain vigilant and firmly defend ... national territory and sovereignty following the military standoff between China and India … we remind India to draw lessons from the standoff, abide by established treaties and the basic principles of international law.”
The national daily The Hindu took a more nuanced stand, calling the deal “a welcome sign that diplomacy has prevailed over the harsh rhetoric of the past 10 weeks”.
Bhutanese media meanwhile gave little in the way of comment except in reporting the agreement.
Many have suggested that the truce reached on Monday is a temporary reprieve, necessitated by the upcoming BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit that starts on Sept. 3 in the Chinese city of Xiamen.
“I think the BRICS summit forced the timing of the agreement because if (Indian Prime Minister Narendra) Modi had not gone to China, it would have been a bit embarrassing for the Chinese government. Had he gone, it would again be embarrassing,” said Jaishankar.
“So effectively, the BRICS summit created a hard timeline for both the countries to come to some kind of resolution beforehand.”