China’s wicked games

The Chinese are once again playing a very dangerous game in the Doklam area. As per the high resolution satellite imagery accessed by national media, it indicates that in addition to setting up a village more than 2 kilometres within Bhutanese territory on the eastern periphery of the contested Doklam plateau, China has built a road in the same area that stretches approximately 9 kilometres inside Bhutanese territory. Doklam is the area where India and China were in a standoff for quite a long time three years ago. Even though Bhutan has denied the report of Chinese incursion, satellite images clearly tell the truth.

It is believed that this new road could ultimately give the Chinese forces an alternative route to the Zompelri ridge, which the Indian Army had prevented Chinese forces from accessing in 2017 when the two sides faced off on the Doklam plateau. The development is happening against the background of the brutal clashes between India and China in eastern Ladakh. Despite several attempts, both the sides have failed to resolve the border conflict. The latest development in Doklam is a lesson for India. In 2017, after three months, both India and China announced that they had withdrawn all their troops from the face-off site in Doklam. But the Chinese have failed to respect the mutually agreed decision to keep their troops off Doklam. Not only are they constructing new roads, they are also setting up villages in the area believed to be of Bhutan. India will have to be very careful while accepting any terms for de-escalation in the Ladakh sector.