The impasse between the Indian and Chinese armies at the Donglang or Doklam region, part of the Sikkim sector, does not look to end soon with troops from both end standing their ground. The official Chinese news agency Xinhua, one of the most important official channels for the communist republic, published commentary that warned that India would face “embarrassment” if it did not withdraw troops from the region, and that the situation would definitely get worse than this. The commentary appeared on Wednesday night. “China has made it clear that there is no room for negotiations on this incident, and India must withdraw its border-crossing troops from Doklam. For China, border line is the bottom line,” the commentary said. The commentary went on to add, “India should not regard the existing situation as the same as or even similar to the previous two standoffs in 2013 and 2014 near Ladakh, a disputed area between China, Pakistan and India in southeastern Kashmir. Diplomatic efforts led the troop’s frictions there to a well-arranged end. But this time it is a totally different case.” This is the first time that China has termed Ladakh a disputed region. The reference to Kashmir is also unprecedented.
The commentary in Xinhua is seen as reflective of the thinking inside the party, and the news agency is affiliated to the State Council, the country’s cabinet. India’s position on the stand-off has changed over the previous weeks, as New Delhi first claimed encroachment of Indian territory by Chinese troops, but later said that the troops were meant for the security of its neighbour and ally Bhutan. Both India and Bhutan are worried over a road that the Chinese troops were constructing near the tri-border area, and it was the construction that prompted the standoff. The Xinhua commentary, however, alleged that Thimpu was not in the loop with the Indians and called on New Delhi to withdraw the troops.