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Doklam standoff ends: What the international media is saying

LiveMint logoLiveMint 29-08-2017 Livemint

New Delhi: India and China on Monday ended their more than two months old standoff in the Doklam plateau with New Delhi issuing a brief statement that it had reached an understanding with Beijing following diplomatic communications and agreed to an “expeditious disengagement” along the border, pulling back troops.

While the Chinese side has only confirmed the withdrawal of Indian troops, the status of its own troops in the disputed territory and any future road building activity remains unclear. PTI quoted a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson in Beijing as saying that “on the afternoon on 28 August, India has pulled back all the trespassing personnel, equipment to the Indian side of the boundary.”

The Chinese spokesperson remained silent on the country’s plans to build a road, which sparked the standoff, and said it would “make adjustments” with the situation on the ground, PTI adds. The official also said the Chinese side would continue to “exercise its sovereignty, uphold territorial integrity in accordance with historical conventions”.

The development between Asia’s top two most populous countries has received attention in the international media as well. Here is what they have to say on the end of the Doklam standoff:

■ The New York Times: “Both sides agreed to give some ground in order to end the standoff… China seemed willing to compromise as well, still claiming the disputed territory, but making no mention in its statements on Monday that it was continuing to build the contentious road.”

■ Daily Mail: “The breakthrough in talks was achieved after a series of parleys between the two sides, which started during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brief meeting with Xi Jinping in Hamburg where the two sides decided to hold NSA-level talks to resolve the issue.

However, the standoff at couple of other locations on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is still there, but top level government sources said the two sides would withdraw from these positions after holding flag meeting, scheduled to take place anytime soon.”

■ Asia Times: “What’s certainly clear is that India has no appetite for being pushed around by its increasingly hegemonic neighbor. Given China’s ambitions forth of its borders – not least in terms of building connectivity and strategic alliances in areas of land and sea that India is accustomed to viewing as its own sphere of influence – future flashpoints seem inevitable. But whether the stand-off at Doklam comes to be viewed as a phoney prelude to some more heated conflict or a footnote in a coming trajectory of greater bilateral co-operation, the fact that no shots were fired in this little summer contretemps suggest both sides have at least weighed the risks attached.”

■ Los Angeles Times: “ …in the wake of the Indo-Chinese military confrontation — 55 years after the two countries fought a brief war that began with a border dispute — many Bhutanese worry that their country is becoming trapped between its longtime patron and an aggressive new suitor, opening up fissures in a placid society whose guiding principle is the pursuit of “gross national happiness… For China, peeling Bhutan away from India is part of its march toward unquestioned dominance in Asia – its version of the 19th century Monroe Doctrine, under which the U.S. declared its opposition to European colonial powers exerting influence in the Western Hemisphere.”

■ Stratfor: “The timing of the drawdown is conspicuous. China will host the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) summit on Sept. 3. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who was already a no-show during China’s Belt and Road Initiative summit — has not confirmed attendance. This is problematic since China would prefer to use BRICS to showcase its harmonious ties with member nations — something which Modi’s absence would almost certainly undercut. So it’s possible Modi used the threat of his absence as a bargaining chip to goad China into an agreement in which Indian troops backed off in exchange for China’s promise to stop building its road. China confirmed neither, but India’s decision to back down suggests the affirmative.”

■ The Irish Times: “if there were a commitment from China to cease road building, it was unconfirmed by either side. India’s withdrawal was sufficient for Beijing to portray itself as having stood firm in the face of aggression – an important victory in the lead up to the autumn’s 19th party congress, during which an eventual successor to president Xi Jinping will be chosen.”

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