The 73-day Doklam standoff between India and China along the Sikkim border is likely to be the new normal, a reputed defence think tank has observed, making a strong case for building military capabilities as China respects strength.
In a new paper titled Looking Beyond Doklam, the Centre for Joint Warfare Studies (CENJOWS), a think tank set up by the defence ministry a decade ago, said it is crucial for India to demonstrate strength as peace along the disputed border or Line of Actual Control (LAC) will be “constantly and continuously” under stress with “increase in frequency, intensity and depth of (Chinese) transgressions leading to more and more standoffs”.
On Doklam, China had accused India of trespass and preventing its troops from building a road in the remote Himalayan plateau that is claimed by both China and Bhutan. The 73-day standoff ended with withdrawal of troops and China removing road-building equipment.
“Doklam was definitely different from Chumar (2014) and Depsang (2013), as China resorted to an information war, exploiting both the Chinese media and also investing in the Indian media,” wrote CENJOWS director, lieutenant general (retd) Vinod Bhatia in the paper.
Bhatia was the director general of military operations when India and China were locked in a tense border standoff at Depsang in Ladakh four years ago. He has also commanded the Siliguri-based HQs 33 Corps that controls the Sikkim sector.
The paper credited India, China and Bhutan for peaceful resolution of the standoff “at politico-diplomatic and military levels”.