CPR faculty comment on India's border standoff with China in the Doklam plateau in Bhutan

7 July 2017
A Curated Analysis

As the stand-off between India and China in the Doklam plateau region of Bhutan continues after China tried to unilaterally build a defence class road in this disputed trijunction, a move which has particular significance for the Siliguri corridor - a vital transport artery to the North-East - read curated commentary by CPR faculty below.

  • Shyam Saran advises on the importance of a calm and measured approach by India toward China in the Doklam stand-off, both taking Bhutan's interests and the changing India-China relations, where the latter is seeking India's deference to its  pre-eminence in the South Asian region, into account. He also appeared in an interview on NDTV (above) and re-iterated the importance of deescalating the standoff through a dialogue process.
  • Brahma Chellaney analyses China's play of camouflaging offense as defense as a part of their aggressive strategy of expansion. In another piece, Chellaney asserts that China is backing itself into a corner, with no posssibility of favourable results, as it continues the psychological warfare against India. In further analysis, Chellaney warns, that unless India responds appropriately to the Chinese psychological warfare, it may suffer long-term consequences which extend beyond Doklam. Chellaney also analyses the strategic role played by Tibet in China's expansionist policies. Further, he analyses China's use of disinformation and the motives of its psychological warfare against India and Bhutan.
  • Srinath Raghavan analyses China's motives at the political and strategic level. He also emphasises the need for India to demonstrate strategic creativity and diplomatic agility to address the core interests and primary concerns of both sides. In another article, Raghvan suggests that realistic diplomacy requires that India and China move toward a mutual restraint pact, and deconstructs the elements of such a pact
  • Brahma Chellaney appeared on an NDTV India panel and analysed China's anger, ambitions and the psychological warfare being waged by it in the Doklam plateau.
  • Zorawar Daulet Singh analyses the various options available to both India and China, and concludes that much depends on wider geopolitical factors and how each side evaluates its relative position in the international environment. Singh also comments on how the current crisis is the manifestation of a steep decline in the Indo-China relationship over the past few years in an interview with Radio France Internationale.
  • Shyam Saran speaks to India Today's Rajdeep Sardesai on escalating tensions between China and India and how New Delhi can help thaw relations with Beijing.
  • Bharat Karnad praises India's tactical restraint in the current standoff against China. He further writes that the situation is not likely to escalate anytime soon.
  • G Parthasarathy analyses how the Indian government's show of independence and strength along its borders, along with the coinciding reaffirmaion of the growing India-US relationship has rattled China.
  • Sandeep Bhardwaj asserts that India should recognise that the ultimate goal of this standoff is not to settle the immediate future of the Doklam plateau but to reassure Bhutan of the credibility of India’s commitment, and should therefore, respond to China accordingly.
  • Shyam Saran gives a talk on the Doklam standoff in the larger context of a changing world order and China's global hegemonic ambitions. The talk was hosted by the Institute of Chinese Studies and was titled Is a China-Centric World Inevitable?
  • Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes that while a quiet compromise will be ideal for both sides, it will not be easy, as China appears keen on escalating the standoff.
  • Shyam Saran writes that, in order to counter China, India must develop good ties with and remain acutely sensitive to the interests of its South Asian neighbours, particularly Bhutan.
  • Shyam Saran writes on the need for India to push back against China’s claims of being Asia’s 'natural leader'.
  • Srinath Raghavan debunks the Chinese claim of the Sikkim-Tibet border being 'already settled'.
  • Doklam may bring India closer to Bhutan, writes Sandeep Bhardwaj.
  • Brahma Chellaney calls the Chinese 'bully’s bluff'.
  • Doklam is turning out to be a classic 'game of shadows', writes Nimmi Kurian.
  • Sanjaya Baru writes on the gap between China's geo-economic power vis-a-vis its geo-political capability.
  • Brahma Chellaney warns that New Delhi cannot overlook the fact that China has been systematically mobilising domestic and international support for a possible war with India.
  • Shyam Saran interviewed on the road ahead for India-China relations in light of the Doklam standoff.
  • China’s modus operandi has been to wage stealth wars, which gives an indication as to where tensions with India may lead, writes Brahma Chellaney.
  • Though the Doklam terrain favours India, it should offer China a face-saver, writes G Parthasarathy.

The views shared belong to individual faculty and researchers and do not represent an institutional stance on the issue.