China claims Doklam Plateau in Bhutan to gain strategic edge over India

China claims Doklam Plateau in Bhutan to gain strategic edge over India

China claims Doklam Plateau in Bhutan to gain strategic edge over India
The area Beijing has of late accused Indian Army soldiers of trespassing into is in Bhutan, but China has been staking a claim on it to gain a strategic edge over India.

Doklam (or Donglang), where Beijing claims its China's People's Liberation Army soldiers were building a road but stopped by Indian Army soldiers, is a plateau in western Bhutan. The plateau is a subject of dispute between China and Bhutan.

Beijing alleged that Indian Army soldiers recently “crossed” India's “border with China” in an attempt to block a road construction in Donglang (or Doklam) area. The Ministry of Defence of Chinese Government claimed that the construction of the road by its personnel was “entirely a sovereign act” in the territory of China.

The statement issued by Colonel Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson for Ministry of National Defence of Chinese Government, however, did not have any reference to the Bhutan-China dispute over Doklam Plateau.

Beijing claims about 89 square kilometre areas in Doklam Plateau, which overlooks the strategically important Chumbi Valley in the intersection of India-China-Bhutan.

The road China claims to be building in its “own territory” in Doklam Plateau would give it a strategic advantage against India in a possible military conflict in future, sources in New Delhi told the Deccan Herald. The plateau overlooks the Chumbi Valley, which is not far from “Siliguri Corridor” - the narrow stretch of land that connects India's seven north-eastern States with the rest of the country. What makes Doklam Plateau and Chumbi Valley important for China's strategic calculus is the fact that control over the area would make it easier for its People's Liberation Army to conduct military manoeuvres aimed at blocking the Siliguri Corridor.

Beijing in the past indicated to Thimphu that it was ready to give up much of its territorial claims in northern Bhutan if the latter accepts Doklam Plateau as a territory of China.

Beijing has all along been jittery about friendly relations between India and Bhutan. India has been funding major development projects in Bhutan since long. Indian Army also runs a military training facility in Bhutan, close to its border with China.

Thimphu on the other hand still does not have diplomatic relations with Beijing.

China claims about 764 square kilometres of areas in Bhutan. The two nations had their 24th round of boundary negotiations in August 2016, albeit without much progress.