The ongoing Sino Indo standoff is refusing to last. India had sent in reinforcements in “non combative” (nozzle of gun directed downwards) mode to Doka La, Sikkim. The two impugned bunkers saw light of the day in 2012 as a backup option besides securing Bhutan China border.
Reportedly, PLA on June 1, 2017 asked the Indian Army to remove these bunkers, During night of June 6, the bunkers were bulldozed .Indian troops frustrated attempts to avoid further damages resulted in minor injuries because of the scuffle. Sikkim is only state which has a demarcated border with China. It is based on a treaty signed in 1898. Post Sino Indo 1962 war, the area was placed under India Army and ITBP.
As the scuffle broke out, an officer of the rank of Major General was rushed to defuse the situation. China accepted the third call for flag meeting after rejecting the earlier two. Notably, Kailash Mansarovar Yatra has been suspended due to ongoing standoff.
It is not the maiden instance of Chinese resorting to aggressive tactics. These rogue manoeuvres were last time visible in 2008, when it razed some makeshift Indian bunkers in the area.
Some believe China wants to exert its dominance over Chumbi Valley, which is a part of the southern reaches of Tibet. By claiming the Doka la area, China wants to maximize its geographical eye over India-Bhutan border.
With mysterious actions, its second in nature , China’s deeds near the China-Bhutan-India border defy rationality. It appears that China miscalculated the whole incident. Doklam is a disputed area between Bhutan and China not India and China. Thus possibly China didn’t foresee India coming to Bhutan’s aid.
Some reports suggest that China had earlier pushed back Bhutanese troops in earlier incursions. Reportedly, China wants to construct permanent road in area and had hoped to repeat the overpowering of Bhutanese soldiers this time too. This hypothesis fits well with China behavior in South China Sea, where it is taking control of islands and then daring smaller nations to fight. In such a case , the only option left to affected parties is the resort to International bodies. The ineffectiveness of such approach was discovered by Philippines.
However,this can also be seen as a deliberate attempt by China to split India & Bhutan. This gives China an opportunity to offer conditional concessions to Bhutan. If this happens , it will create a very delicate diplomatic problem for India and will require astute response.
It might also be an effort by China to stop growing strategic entente between India and US, given that this happened at the time as PM’s surprisingly successful US visit.
Finally, China’s action might be a premonition of its ugly future actions.The idea that China might be deliberately planning a war is implausible but possible.This possibility is bolstered by its 1962 adventures.
“If they are trying to remind us , the situation in 1962 was different and the India of 2017 is different” , Jaitley had said when asked about China’s “lessons learnt” warning.
Irrespective of whether this was deliberate or a miscalculation , in the larger political context, China is leaving with little strategic options.New Delhi is realizing that with China, there is no middle ground.