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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/4/20

China's move on Doklam could cut India's access to its northeastern states

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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Satellite images appear to show China developing areas along a disputed border with Bhutan, igniting deep strategic and demographic ramifications for India, the TRT has reported.

India-China tensions flared after the release of new satellite images which revealed the Chinese construction of a village along a disputed border shared by India and Bhutan, previously the site of months of military standoff.

Tensions were already high after India and China engaged in a bloody clash along another disputed border in the Himalayas earlier this year, leaving at least 20 soldiers dead. It marked the worst conflict between the two countries since they fought a war over the same territory in 1962.

The US-based satellite operator, Maxar Technologies, which published the images on October 28 2020, notes "significant construction activity this year all along the Torsa River valley area." More recent footage further identified "new military storage bunkers" near Doklam.

The satellite imagery appears to show military-grade, hardened ammunition depots, 2.5 kilometers away from the strategic eastern periphery of the contested Doklam plateau near the border between Bhutan and China in the area, the TRT report said.

Bhutan's claimed border runs along the northern ridge of the strategic Doklam plateau, where a 73-day military standoff between India and China previously took place in 2017. China's claim of the border includes the large majority of the Doklam area within its Chumbi Valley.

Chicken's neck

The Chumbi Valley has also been described as the single most strategically important piece of real estate in the entire Himalayan region. In essence, it gives China the ability to cut off India's Siliguri corridor, a 24 kilometre wide corridor between Nepal and Bangladesh, often called the Chicken's neck, which connects New Delhi to its North-Eastern states.

The Siliguri corridor is a major strategic vulnerability for India, remaining the only land bridge spanning its eight north-eastern states and the rest of its country. It's no less important for Bhutan either, representing a main supply route into the country.

The new ammunition dumps, just 7 kilometres from the Doklam plateau, could indicate an enhanced level of military readiness by Chinese forces. In the mountainous, hardy Himalayan terrain, victories aren't won through tank battles or conventional tactics, but by who arrives first, and who can hold out the longest. In such battles of attrition, resupply and logistics are a matter of life and death, according to TRT.

Doklam Plateau

The elevated Doklam Plateau also affords a militarily advantageous view, making it desirable to both China and India.

China's foremost ancient military strategist, Sun Tzu, wrote in the Art of War that the army that holds the high ground, often possesses an offensive and defensive advantage. For modern Chinese military planners, this adage still holds true.

If China maintains control of the ethnically-Tibetan Chumbi valley, and establishes control over Bhutan's contested Doklam Plateau, it gains the advantage of being able to outflank heavy Indian defensive entrenchments aligned in the northeastern state of Sikkim against China's Chumbi Valley, in addition to being able to cut off the previously mentioned Siliguri corridor, the TRT said adding:

India's chief concern with China's newly entrenched position is China's ability to easily project force and cut off the Indian central states from 50 million other Indian citizens.

China's build-up of positions reflects a tactic it has wielded to great effect in the South China Sea, with the steady encroachments of artificial militarized islands that gave it de-facto control and a claim to sovereignty over territory contested by six other nations.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 
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