While Narendra Modi government in the Centre kept patting its own back over its claimed “success” in resolving the military standoff between Indian and Chinese armies, the dragon has quietly resumed its activities in the disputed Doklam area, a top US official said, according to PTI.
Comparing China’s actions in the Himalayan region with its manoeuvres in the disputed South China Sea during a Congressional hearing, Congresswoman Ann Wagner asked, “Although both countries back down, China has quietly resumed its activities in Doklam and neither Bhutan nor India has sought to dissuade it. China’s activities in the Himalayas remind me of its south China Sea policies. How should our failure to respond to the militarisation of the South China Sea inform the international response to these Himalayan border disputes?”
Responding to her question, Alice G Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia said that he “would assess that India is vigorously defending its northern borders and this is a subject of concern to India.”
Since independence, India had indulged in several border disputes with the dragon and the countries even fought a brief war in 1962. Most recently, in 2017, the countries indulged in a bitter military standoff on the disputed Doklam plateau between Bhutan and China.
China has its own history of border and maritime disputes with almost all the countries it shares the land of maritime borders. While China claims sovereignty over all of South China Sea, neighbouring countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Taiwan have counterclaims.
As the US looks to the Indo-Pacific strategy put forward by the Trump administration, Ms Wells said it has been taken in light of the ‘South China Sea’s Strategy’.
“How do we maintain the region to be open, to have maritime security, to not have militarisation that would imperil the 70 per cent of global trade?” Wells asked.
“We need to do that by giving authority to sovereign nations to have choices in how they develop, to have choices in their partnerships,” she added.
(With inputs from PTI)