Timeline: the story of the Doklam stand-off

PLA’s live drills are meant to reinforce the perception that a military option in Doklam is under active consideration.   | Photo Credit: AFP

India and China have mutually agreed to de-escalate tensions along the disputed territory. The move comes days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to travel to China to attend a BRICS summit from September 3 to 5.

Territorial disputes between India and China are long-standing, marked by frequent skirmishes along a hazy international border that is fenced by the steep ridges and inhospitable valleys of the Himalayan range. The two neighbours even fought a war in 1962. 

The tension that prevailed during the three-month-long standoff at Doklam has been diffused by the announcement to dilute military presence at the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction.

Here is a timeline of events chronicling how the situation unfolded:

June 16 - The Indian Army intercepts and stalls road-laying efforts by the Chinese in the Doka La area of the Doklam plateau, leading to a standoff between units of the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army of China. There is dispute over the plateau, which is just north of the tri-junction of Sikkim, Bhutan, and Tibet.

June 20 - The Bhutanese envoy in New Delhi registers protest against Chinese intervention into its territory. 

June 23 - China refuses entry to pilgrims visiting Kailash Mansarovar — a site considered holy by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains — citing damage to roads due to rains in Tibet. Read more.

June 28 - The Chief of the Army Staff, Bipin Rawat, visits Sikkim to take stock of the situation. Read more

June 29 - China tests a 35-tonne military tank in Tibet, near the Indian border.

July 6 - China calls off a meeting between Premier Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 meet, saying the "atmosphere was not right."

July 18 - Chinese foreign ministry asks India to immediately withdraw its troops to avoid any escalation of the situation. India should not use “trespass” into the Doklam area in the Sikkim sector as a “policy tool” to achieve its “political targets”, said Chinese officials.

July 19 - Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh says in the Lok Sabha that China has buried nuclear weapons in Pakistan so as to attack India. Read more.

July 22 - India and China should engage in direct dialogue free of any “coercive aspects” to reduce the tension over a military standoff in Doklam, the Pentagon says.

July 27 - The Air Force station at Panagarh in Bardhaman district gets its first set of multi-skilled transport aircraft C-130J Super Hercules manufactured by Lockheed Martin of the United States. Officials say the deployment at the strategically important air base has nothing to do with the Doklam standoff. Read more.

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval holds talks with Chinese State Councillor Yang Jichei, covering “bilateral issues and major problems.”

July 31 - Chinese border guards enter one kilometre into Indian territory and threaten shepherds grazing cattle in the Barahoti area of Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district.

August 3 - India must withdraw its troops on the Doklam plateau or face ''serious consequences'', says a senior Chinese diplomat in New Delhi. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tells  the Rajya Sabha that “war was not a solution,” referring to the stand-off with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army at Doklam, adding that “wisdom was to resolve issues diplomatically.” Read more.

August 4 - China says it has shown “utmost goodwill” over the prolonged military standoff with India in the Sikkim sector but warned that its “restraint” has a “bottom line“.

August 9 - Defence Minister Arun Jaitley tells the Rajya Sabha that the armed forces were strong enough to meet any challenge to the country’s security, underlining that lessons had been learnt from the 1962 war. Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama describes India and China as close neighbours but cautioned against “harsh words.”

August 17 - State-run media house Xinhua releases a video in English, entitled “The Seven Sins of India”, which accuses India of “trampling international law” and “confusing right and wrong” over the Doklam crisis. A video surfaces of the August 15 skirmish between Indian and Chinese troops by the Pangong lake in Ladakh. However, shots were not fired, and the brawl was restricted to fisticuffs and stone-throwing. Read more.

A screenshot from the video.

A screenshot from the video.  


August 18 - Japanese Ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu makes comments supporting India’s position on Doklam. Japan and China are locked in a stalemate over eight uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. China is also involved in territorial disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea. Read more.

August 25 - China agrees to tackle trade imbalance. Beijing says it does not want Doklam stand-off to hurt trade and promises to send a delegation to India by December to help build trade ties.

August 28 - India and China mutually agree to de-escalate tensions in the Doklam plateau, bringing putative closure to the dispute that created fears of outright armed conflict between the two nuclear weapon states.

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Printable version | Jul 20, 2021 6:29:32 AM |

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