With India, heading towards its path to become a developed country; there is also tension with its neighbouring countries. After Pakistan, now it is China, with the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction issue, which is causing tension between the two countries. In this period of escalation, China’s ‘three warfares’ (in the media, psychological and legal arenas) on India in the last few weeks, several scenarios could unfold between these two rising countries with long-term consequences for Asian regional alignments. It is already been a month for the military troops to face this standoff at the tri-junction and yet there is no way out. Over this the Chinese troops have stopped any contacts with Indian government in order to get out of this situation. Though the people of India have already started rejecting the Chinese goods after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced it in the favour of the national growth.
For the border country Bhutan, the pressure has been built up by China; making it difficult to hold on to its age-historical ties with India. This pressure may be conductive to the Bhutan’s securities and its growth. While going against China would lead to uncertainties. Secondly, for Bhutan the pushy nature of Beijing’s diplomatic, political and economic clout could alter its much-preserved happiness quotient in the long-term while upsetting the mutually beneficial apple-cart with New Delhi.
On the other hand for China has opened up abuse towards India, both questioning the Bhutan-India special relations as well as on Sikkim and other areas, repeatedly reminding of the 1962 imbroglio. This may lead to a prolonged standoff between the two countries.
While India making hard-core efforts to resolve the issue out but still four possibilities can be thought to exist:
- India and China signed confidence building measures in the conventional military field since 1995, including border personnel meetings, ‘hot lines’, periodic flag meetings, mutual military visits in local areas, these are conspicuous by their absence at the Doklam standoff.
- Diplomatic intervention to resolve the issue is being thought to be used — quietly at the moment with back-channel diplomatic activity.
- Number of high officials meeting may increase considerably.
- In the previous standoffs at the Depsang Plain in 2013 and Chumar in 2014 and 2015, this track proved to be decisive, although slow in the making. Not being able to solve the issue as soon as possible may develop conflicts between the two countries. Though, both the countries are saying a no to these misconceptions and this may help in improvement of he situation.
If at last, some conflict takes place between the countries, then China already has an edge in quantity, logistics sustenance and saturation missile strike capabilities.
However, the Indian armed forces are no pushover, with the GOI favouring whatever the Army asks for, with clear advantages in morale, motivation and professionalism, in addition to recent preparations in arms build-up including new air bases and advanced landing grounds, transport and rapid response, the Brahmos and a part of the Strike Corps available for operations.
This is a tall order given the ever-increasing demands in the South China Sea, Taiwan and Senkaku Islands. Also, given the enhancement in the kill-ratio capabilities of the Indian armed forces, thanks to recent inductions, Beijing has to re-think Defence Minister Arun Jaitley’s comments on the 1962 skirmishes.
Nevertheless, Beijing may be tempted to resort to Mao Zedong’s dictum ‘feint in the east, but attack in the west’. This bleak conventional scenario leaves the possibility for sub-conventional stress levels increasing between India and China in the short term. Much of the ‘three warfares’ that China is waging against India is in this domain of legal, psychological and media aspects recently. In addition, cyber domains are expected to come under pressure.
Also, over 150 trans-Himalayan Buddhist monasteries could witness major changes in leadership and finances in the coming years with law and order as subjects of concern.