Doklam standoff reflects changing China-India relationship

A map showing the Doklam Plateau and other areas of dispute between India and China
The Doklam Plateau is located at a strategic point where the borders of India, China and Bhutan meet (source: macpixxel for GIS)
  • The current China-India standoff in the Himalayas is unlike past ones
  • The countries are butting heads more frequently as their influence grows
  • It is unlikely to develop into a full-blown military conflict

A military showdown in the Himalayas between India and China is now in its tenth week with no clear path to a peaceful resolution. Though only a few hundred soldiers physically face each other, the two countries have each moved about 5,000 soldiers close to the Doklam Plateau, in the Himalayas, where the borders of India, China and Bhutan meet. There has been some fiery language, mostly from the Chinese, but none of the soldiers are carrying weapons. Both sides are keeping to the letter of the four bilateral border management agreements that exist precisely to contain such crises. Nonetheless, the confrontation in Doklam is a symptom of a troubled Sino-Indian relationship. Recently the two countries have ruffled each other’s feathers over a host of new issues. The new twist is that India has intervened to back the territorial claims of Bhutan.

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