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China Border Standoff: Extraordinary Times Call for Extraordinary Measures

Both in terms of the rhetoric from Beijing as well as its ‘unilateral action’ to change the status quo at the India-China-Bhutan trijunction, China has made it clear they see Doklam standoff as very different from the ones in the past.

Zakka Jacob | CNN-News18

Updated:July 20, 2017, 4:49 PM IST
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China Border Standoff: Extraordinary Times Call for Extraordinary Measures
National flags of India (left) and China. (Image for representation only)
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New Delhi: The Doklam standoff between India and China is now in its fifth week. This is an extraordinary stalemate, the kind of which we haven’t seen since the Samudorong Chu incident in 1986.

Both in terms of the rhetoric from Beijing as well as its ‘unilateral action’ to change the status quo at the India-China-Bhutan trijunction, China has made it clear they see this incident as very different from the ones in the past.

Wouldn’t such an extraordinary turn of events also merit an out-of-the box, not so ordinary, response?

So far, the MEA has been saying regular channels of communication are open between both countries i.e communication through each other’s respective embassies, through the diplomats stationed therein with the Foreign offices of the respective host countries.

If one thing is clear in the fifth week of this standoff, it is this. This current flare-up does require some out-of-the box thinking, perhaps employing means of communication which have not been activated before.

When Narendra Modi went to Beijing in May 2015, both countries had decided to set up a hotline between their respective military headquarters. Later it was decided that the level will be at that of both the DGMOs. That hotline is perhaps gathering dust somewhere in North Block. Now is as good a time as any to activate that hotline.

Also, last year, after Beijing’s refusal to allow India entry into the Nuclear Suppliers group and its recalcitrance in declaring Jaish e Mohammed founder Masood Azhar a global terrorist, both India and China decided to set up a special mechanism between Foreign Secretary Jaishankar and China’s Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui. Even this new mechanism has not been activated in the current Doklam standoff.

Why these two out of the ordinary channels of communication have not been activated in this current stand-off remains an elusive question. One that the MEA also refuses to answer.

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| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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