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Doklam face-off part of India’s policy to “surround” Tibet: Chinese blog

On the frontier Kupup, the closest point to Doklam, has a dozen tin-thatched private houses.   | Photo Credit: SUVOJIT BAGCHI

Citing Sikkim as a precedent, a write up posted in the popular micro-blogging site WeChat, is alleging that the India’s decision to move troops into the Doklam plateau, is part of New Delhi’s bid to “surround” Tibet, with Nepal and Bhutan as its partners.

The blog titled Fengye Kun points out that India’s so-called encirclement of Tibet began first with Sikkim’s “annexation” in 1975.

The standoff at Doklam, which has Bhutan as the focus, is therefore an extension of New Delhi’s Himalayan grand strategy.

“If China cannot have the firm and effective plan to cope with this standoff (in Doklam), India will for sure go further. At the same time Bhutan will succumb further to India’s so called protection. India’s next target will be Nepal, so it can surround Tibet,” says the blog.

The posting-apparently the Chinese social media’s comeback to India’s popular String of Pearls or “encirclement by Beijing” theory-- underscores that the prolongation of the Doklam faceoff can undermine Bhutan’s sovereignty. It stresses that that there is “every reason to worry that in view of its police, defence and security forces being long controlled by India, Bhutan will soon after become a second Sikkim, and emerge as an Indian state”.

Consequently, Bhutan “will be integrated with Arunachal Pradesh”. “If that happens, the middle and eastern part of the China-India border will be completely connected.”

The expansive, if not fanciful interpretation of contemporary history, is not without its critics in the Chinese intelligentsia. In his WeChat blog, Mao Siwei, China’s former Consul General in Kolkata, countered the assumptions undergirding the blog’s argument. He points out that India has long settled the question of Tibet. “The problem that Tibet belonged to China was resolved in 1954 through a consultative agreement. Besides, in the joint statement issued during the 2003 visit of former Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee’s visit to China, India explicitly acknowledged that the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) was part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), reiterating that no Tibetans should or are allowed to conduct anti-China political activities in India.”

Mr. Mao highlighted that the Mr. Vajpayee’s 2003 visit which yielded a border trade agreement linking Sikkim with TAR, sealed the bilateral understanding between the two countries on Tibet and Sikkim.

The Fengye Kun blog explained why China could not thwart Sikkim’s merger with India, as part of Tibet’s purported encirclement.

The write-up explains that the preoccupation of China with the Cultural Revolution in the seventies, marked by serious turbulence in the top-leadership, diverted it from taking any action on Sikkim.

On the contrary, India, flushed with the victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war, followed up the change in its eastern border, with a plan to change in the status quo on its frontier with China, in Sikkim. “India

after the third India and Pakistan war, in 1971 following its victory, made a decision to annex Sikkim, and made all kinds of preparation to achieve this goal in the following two years.”

On the contrary China, in September 1971, experienced the Lin Biao affair, says the blog, referring to the controversial plane crash in Mongolia of Lin Biao, in his apparent attempt to flee Maoist China.

“China had no attention to spare for Pakistan, leave alone for Sikkim,” says the posting. It adds: “On May 18 1974, India conducted its first nuclear test in the Rajasthan desert and the success of the trial fueled Indian people’s confidence.”

The blog attributes India’s decision on the Sikkim merger with the enduring strategic importance of the Siliguri corridor-the narrow passage that links the Northeast with the rest of India.

“The narrowest part of the Siliguri corridor measures only 22.5 kilometers. It is called India’s chicken’s neck; which means that once cut, the mainland India would be separated from the rest of the

northeast states.” “To a large degree, the Silguri corridor has the strategic importance of keeping India’s territorial integrity.”

Sikkim’s integration therefore expanded India’s “strategic space” around the Siliguri corridor. Besides, merger with India broke the geographic contiguity of Nepal and Bhutan, with Sikkim as an independent state, with major security implications.


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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 10:52:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/doklam-face-off-part-of-indias-policy-to-surround-tibet-chinese-blog/article19569684.ece

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