The face-off was caused by Indian border guards who crossed the border at the Sikkim section into Chinese territory and obstructed routine road construction in the Doklam area of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.
In contrast to previous confrontations, the current border dispute is at a long-demarcated section of the China-India border, where no incidents had occurred over the past years.
India has tried to justify its incursion in the name of protecting Bhutan, arguing that Doklam is Bhutanese territory.
However, according to the Convention between Great Britain and China Relating to Sikkim and Tibet (1890), Doklam undoubtedly belongs to China. The agreement was inherited by India after its independence and has been repeatedly confirmed in writing by successive governments of the former British colony.
Documents between the Chinese and Indian governments show former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru confirmed several times, on behalf of the Indian government, that the Sikkim-Tibet border was defined by the 1890 convention.
It is a basic principle of international law that binding treaties must be executed in good faith.
India’s sudden disregard of the 1890 convention runs counter to the ongoing position of the Indian government. It has breached the basic norms of the UN Charter and international laws and will pose a significant threat to bilateral relations.
By creating disputes in Doklam, India seeks to obstruct border negotiations between China and Bhutan, and follow its own ulterior motives in the area.
The claim can not hold water. Doklam has long been under the effective jurisdiction of China. Both Bhutan and China have a basic consensus on the functional conditions and demarcation of their border region.
Moreover, India has no right to interfere in China-Bhutan boundary issues, nor is it entitled to make territorial claims on behalf of Bhutan.
India’s current actions have not only encroached on China’s territorial sovereignty, but also impaired the independence of Bhutan, one of the world’s smallest countries, which is closely allied with India.
India has also argued that Chinese construction would represent a “significant change of status quo with serious security implications for India” in a statement by its Ministry of External Affairs. That argument is unconvincing.
Chinese construction is being conducted within its own territory. It is India that has broken the status quo by trespassing onto Chinese soil. It is not acceptable to any sovereign country that India has crossed a demarcated border into another country on the grounds of its “security concerns.”
Indian troops should immediately withdraw to the Indian side of the border as a precondition for any meaningful dialogue between the two countries.
It is clear that if the “Chinese Dragon” and the “Indian Elephant” co-exist harmoniously and achieve peaceful, cooperative development, it will benefit not only their combined 2.7 billion people, but also those living beyond their borders.
Otherwise, a spiral of bilateral rivalry would definitely result in a slow down in their growth.