Two options on Doklam standoff: Let Bhutan troops replace India’s, wait until November

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Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: P5 Countries

Mains level: India-China relations


News

Context:

  • As the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at Doklam at the trijunction with Bhutan continues, the government is working hard on two diplomatic options to resolve the crisis. 

Two options

  1. The first option involves Bhutan, wherein its soldiers replace Indian troops in the standoff, leading to a mutual disengagement by China and Bhutan.
    • Replacing Indian troops on Dolam plateau with soldiers of the Royal Bhutan Army, which is then followed by mutual withdrawal by the Chinese and Bhutanese troops
    • By addressing the Chinese complaint of Indian troops on Bhutanese soil, this option gives Beijing a face-saver to withdraw its troops while meeting New Delhi’s aim of preventing Chinese road construction.
  2. The second option is of prolonging the standoff until November, till after the National Congress of the Communist Party of China, when de-escalation can take place through quiet diplomacy.
    • As winter sets in, the weather in the area deteriorates by November, making any military action, or even road construction, difficult.
    • National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be over by November which will then allow Chinese President Xi Jinping to bring down the rhetoric needed for political support in the Congress.
    • This would then create an environment where mutual de-escalation can take place and a way out can be found through diplomatic engagement by both sides.
    • It is a course of action seen as most likely by many foreign embassies, including some of the P-5 countries.

Issue with first option

  1. “Cordination issues” with Bhutan which New Delhi will have to overcome deftly
  2. Chinese acceptance of the proposal
  3. There is a fear that this could provide Thimphu the impetus to eventually start engaging with Beijing directly, and have diplomatic ties with China
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China
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