India and China have called off the military stand-off at Doklam ahead of the BRIC Summit.
However, what does the future hold for the two fastest growing economies in the world?
India’s contemporary relationship with China began in 1950. Between 1960 and 1987, India and China have been involved in three major military conflicts. A bilateral relationship has since been established but both nations have often been pitted against one another as they are two of the fastest growing economies in the world. The two countries have never completely resolved their border problems and Chinese troops have reportedly infringed upon the Indian Territory over the years.
In June 2017, a skirmish broke out between Indian and Chinese troops at the Doklam plateau. Indian soldiers had intervened the construction work being conducted by China in the region. The area is a disputed territory between Bhutan (an Indian ally) and China. For nearly three months both nations were engaged in a military stand-off. Another scuffle between Indian and Chinese troops broke out in August 2017. The two sides took to throwing stones at one another at Pangong Lake in Ladakh. Reportedly 15 Chinese soldiers had crossed into Indian territory and did not turn back despite repeated warnings.
By the end of August 2017, both sides announced that the stand-off had been called off. The Indian statement noted that both sides would withdraw troops but China had declared that its troops will continue to patrol the area. However, China has pulled back road construction equipment and bulldozers it had brought to the area.
The upcoming BRIC Summit is likely to have played a key role in ending the stand-off. The Summit will be held from September 3rd to September 5th with China playing its host. The nation has reportedly meticulously planned for the event and did not want the conflict to overshadow its agenda.
Yue Gang, a retired colonel in the PLA’s General Staff Department told SCMP, “The event – where Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are supposed to meet – has offered a way out of this unexpectedly tense stand-off, although there are different interpretations as to which side actually compromised more.”
Currently both India and China have both claimed personal victories at the end of the border row. However, experts have noted that China had to concede more than India. Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi had been involved in intense dialogue in the recent weeks to resolve the matter at hand.
China’s Senior Colonel Wu Qian of the PLA and Defence Ministry said that peace and stability for the citizens from both nations had been restored. However, he warned, “We remind India to draw lessons from the stand-off, abide by established treaties and the basic principles of international law, and work together with China to safeguard peace and stability along the border and promote the healthy development of the two militaries.”
Our assessment is that India may have realized it was best to tone down its initial rhetoric and China realized that while war may be considered an extension of politics, it is also the consequence of a failure in diplomacy. It bears a cost that both the nations can ill afford.