Current Affairs 2023
The Doklam issue involves China's construction of a motorable road in the Donglong area of the Sikkim sector, affecting the boundary between China and Bhutan. India intervened due to its strategic position near the Siliguri corridor and concerns over China's actions. Recently, India and Bhutan have reaffirmed their close relationship and cooperation on security issues, with India promising to support Bhutan's upcoming 13th Five Year Plan and extend standby credit facilities.
Apr 05, 2023
3 min read
Doklam issue refers to a border dispute that began in June 2017 between China and India over the Doklam plateau, an area that is also known as Donglong, near the Chumbi Valley, Sikkim. China was constructing a road from Dokola towards a Bhutanese army camp. This construction led to tension between China and Bhutan, as the construction was affecting the boundary between the two countries, and Bhutan requested Beijing to stop the work and restore the status quo. Although China claimed that the region was under its control, Bhutan claimed sovereignty over it, and both countries had written agreements in 1988 and 1998 that required them to maintain tranquility in their border areas pending a final settlement on the boundary question. It was also decided to maintain the status quo on the boundary as before March 1959.
India's intervention in this conflict was based on its strategic interests as the Chumbi Valley was close to the slender Siliguri corridor, a dangerous choke point, and also as a way of protecting the interests and rights of Bhutan. India's trust in Chinese intentions was collapsing steadily. Several times China's actions were irritating India, and India felt that several times they were provocative and without any rational basis.
Recently, the King of Bhutan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi met in New Delhi, days after Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering raised eyebrows with his statement on China having an equal say in resolving the border dispute at Doklam. India said Tuesday that it follows all developments that have a bearing on its national interest "very closely" and will take all necessary measures to safeguard them. Underlining that India and Bhutan share ties characterised by "trust, goodwill, mutual understanding," Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said, "India and Bhutan remain in close touch relating to our shared interest, including security interest."
In conclusion, the Doklam controversy highlights the geopolitical interests of the countries involved in the region. It also indicates wider competition for influence over smaller countries in the region. India and China need to find ways to peacefully resolve their border disputes and engage in constructive dialogue to avoid future confrontations. At the same time, Bhutan's sovereignty and interests need to be protected, and it is crucial that Bhutan's voice be heard in any discussions about its territory.
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