Nearly two months after India sent its troops across the Sikkim section of the border with China into the Donglang area, triggering a standoff between Chinese and Indian soldiers, New Delhi has continued to drag its feet over pulling its trespassing troops back onto Indian soil despite the repeated protests and warnings Beijing has made. One of the excuses India has given for its troops crossing the long delimited border is that Donglang is a territory contested by China and Bhutan, and it is standing up for its small ally against what it claims is China’s bullying of Bhutan.
The logic is ridiculous, even dangerous as the premise for action, since it sets a bad precedent of a regional power sending troops onto foreign soil in the name of protecting a third party’s sovereignty.
Actually, as friendly neighboring countries, China and Bhutan — though they are yet to establish diplomatic relations because of India’s interventions — have agreed to solve their border disputes through talks and consultations.
So far 24 rounds of border negotiations have been held and there are ample reasons to believe they will yield results if India stops throwing wrenches in the works.
Although Bhutan is yet to make a public statement, understandably given India’s involvement, in a development that may come as a slap on the face of India, Bhutan has conveyed to Beijing through non-diplomatic channels that the area of the standoff is not its territory, the Press Trust of India reported on Tuesday, quoting Wang Wenli, deputy head of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Instead of mending its ways and withdrawing its troops immediately from Chinese territory as Beijing has repeatedly urged, India seems to be preparing for the “long haul”. It is repairing its roads to the rear of the standoff, stocking up on supplies and massing a large number of armed personnel, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The adventurous trespassing by India can be attributed to its sense of insecurity given the friendly relations between China and Pakistan, but such concerns do not justify its rising chauvinism, which means it sees its small neighbor Bhutan as a vassal state rather than a sovereign and independent nation.
China has a strong will to solve the problem peacefully, but India keeps paying lip service to that by refusing to withdraw its trespassing troops. India should be fully aware of the consequences if it persists with its reckless behavior.