India-China border face-off intensifies over Chinese road constructions in Bhutan

Indian Army and People’s Republican Army of China are in virtual eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation at the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction with both the sides strengthening their respective positions by each reportedly deploying around 3,000 troops. Reports suggest that both sides are not willing to budge from their respective positions.

This is the biggest such confrontation between two powerful Armies in the last many years. It could be noted that Indian Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army had confronted each other at Daulat Beg Oldi in 2013.

The genesis of the flashpoint is China’s attempts to build a motorable road in the Doklam plateau, which is Bhutanese territory. This has led to the current standoff between the two Armies. The 269-sq km Doklam plateau is strategically located at the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction. The plateau adjourns to the Chumbi Valley, which is shaped like a dagger jutting into India, separating Sikkim from Bhutan. Chumbi Valley faces Chicken’s Neck, a strategically-vulnerable and thin strip of land in Siliguri.

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Clearly, this is part of Beijing’s plans to gain strategic advantage in the region. India has strategic and defence interests in the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction. India could lose its strategic advantage in the region once the Chinese road is constructed. Through this road, China wants to enhance its military logistics in the region with an aim to endanger India’s sovereignty. Because through Doklam intrusion, China ultimately wants to intrude into Sikkim.

Bhutan has issued a demarche to China and asked Beijing to restore status quo by stopping the road construction activities in Doklam plateau immediately. But a desperate China has termed the construction of road in Doklam plateau as “legitimate” saying the road is being built in its own territory.

India is strongly opposed to China’s creeping territorial aggression. Though Indian Army or Foreign Ministry of India are yet to make any official statement, China says Indian Army is preventing its People’s Liberation Army from road construction activity in Doklam plateau.

India has progressively strengthened its defences at Line of Actual Control to stem any Chinese ingress. On Thursday, Army chief General Bipin Rawat visited the headquarters of the 17 Mountain Division in Gangtok and 27 Mountain Division in Kalimpong and took stock of the operational preparedness.

General Rawat has been apprised by the top Army commanders about the entire security situation in the region. The Army Chief’s visit to troubled region came on day China’s People’s Liberation Army had conducted trials of a battle tank in the plains of Tibet, near the Indian border. Invoking the 1962 war, Chinese Army has asked the Indian Army to learn from the “historical lessons”.

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