India Withdraws Troops from Doklam, But Has China?
THE CITIZEN BUREAU
NEW DELHI: The Indian Ministry of External Affairs issued a bland statement this morning stating that the withdrawal of troop at Doklam has been agreed and is on going. It did not use the crucial term “mutual withdrawal” creating considerable confusion as almost immediately the Peoples Daily tweeted that India had agreed to withdraw its soldiers from Doklam with Xinhua following shortly after with “Flash: China Confirms Withdrawal of Border Personnel at Face-Off Site at Doklam.”
The MEA statement was silent although unidentified sources told sections of the media that both sides were withdrawing their troops from Doklam. However, the statement read:
“In recent weeks, India and China have maintained diplomatic communication in respect of the incident at Doklam. During these communications, we were able to express our views and convey our concerns and interests.
On this basis, expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site at Doklam has been agreed to and is on-going.”
Reuters reporting on the Chinese foreign ministry briefing quoted spokeswoman Hua Chunying as saying that while the Indian troops had withdrawn to the Indian side of the border, the Chinese troops would continue to patrol the disputed Doklam region. This has been the tone and tenor of all reports about the current resolution from China, with the foreign ministry reconfirming the short reports carried by the official media.
The two month stand off at Doklam, however, now comes to an end just in time for the BRICS summit in China early next month that will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with the leaders of Brazil, Russia and South Africa. And China of course.
China had earlier assured India, even as it stepped up the propaganda war for the immediate withdrawal of Indian soldiers from Doklam, that it would not cheer or jeer if New Delhi quietly agreed to move out its troops. An assurance as seen by diplomatic circles that India need not look at the withdrawal as a defeat, as China would certainly not rub in the fact and maintain silence .
The government was clearly worried about the impact of such a withdrawal on its core ‘nationalist’ constituency that had been applauding the government for ‘teaching China a lesson’. This was noted, in fact in the Chinese responses, with many references to the BJP supporters and to the media’s comments on the Doklam stand off. China, followed this with warnings that it would not allow its sovereignty to be compromised and would settle for nothing else but the withdrawal of Indian soldiers from what was not their territory. Sources said that pressure from the normally quiet Bhutan was also increasing, with resentment growing against the government there from the people for allowing Indian troops on what it claims as its territory.
China in fact also referrred to Bhutan several times in its various statements, maintaining that India was violating its smaller neighbours sovereignty by sending its troops to Doklam.
New Delhi after an initial response, fell increasingly silent on the issue. As the Chinese decibels increased, India’s decreased to zero with no attempt being made by the government here to counter the increasing belligerence of the Dragon that warned of war, giving ultimatums and deadlines. This was interpreted as ‘maturity’ by sections of experts in India, but was certainly out of tune with the present government that does not accept what many of its supporters described as “bullying tactics” by China easily.