31 Dec, 2017
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Places in News – 2017
Doklam or Zhoglam (in Standard Tibetan), is an area with a plateau and a valley, lying between Tibet’s Chumbi Valley to the north, Bhutan’s Ha Valley to the east and India’s Sikkim state to the west.
In June 2017 a military standoff occurred between China and India as China attempted to extend a road on the Doklam plateau southwards near the Doka La pass and Indian troops moved in to prevent the Chinese. India acted on behalf of Bhutan, with which it has a ‘special relationship’. Bhutan has formally objected to China’s road construction in the disputed area.
Why Doklam matters so much to India:
*Doklam, situated in Sikkim, is strategically important for India, as it is a post bordering China and Bhutan. Any Chinese attempt to gain a foothold there is dangerous for India’s defence and sovereignty.
*Conceding Doklam without a fight could be taken as a weakness and encourage Beijing to bold moves in several other boundary disputes.
*Doklam is also situated at the India-Bhutan-China trijunction. Bhutan has no diplomatic ties with China and India has a special relationship – including militarily – with Bhutan. In short, India has responsibilities towards Bhutan, which include helping it guard its sovereignty. India gains too, with Bhutan firmly on its side.
*India is strategically located at the heart of China’s energy lifeline and the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’. It’s strong position on Doklam could help stem any Chinese incursion to do with advancing the initiative.
*Therefore, when Chinese troops intruded Doklam plateau in Bhutan on June 16, to build a road, 270 Indian troops entered with bulldozers and weapons to stop construction.
*June 20: Bhutan, through its embassy in New Delhi, formally protested the Chinese road construction in Doklam plateau.
*July 6: China called off a meeting between Premier Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 meet, saying the “atmosphere was not right.” Later in the month, China’s military conducted live-fire exercises in Tibet, close to the India’s border in Arunachal.
*July 18: Chinese foreign ministry renewed its call for India to immediately withdraw its troops from Doklam to avoid any escalation of the situation.
*July 21: India called for simultaneous troop withdrawal by the two sides.
*July 22: Pentagon intervened and said India and China should engage in direct dialogue free of any “coercive aspects” to reduce the tension.
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