T 大字体2017-08-12 10:16:52 五毛网
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China and India's Border Disputes
Hey all. I've been studying the habits of China politically and economically for some time now, but what I haven't been able to pin down is...what is the significance of the land they have disputes with in regards to Bhutan and India?
For some context, I understand that China often has the attitude that losing any land considered "greater China" is often considered a humiliation to its leadership, which sparks some chest beating on their southern border. But what is the geopolitical or economic significance of these borders, if any? Is it purely just a conflict of different interpretations of past treaties with British India?
some resources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Indian_border_dispute
sparky_sparky_boom 64分 11天前
The latest dispute has to do with part of the Doklam Plateau that's at the south end of the Chumbi Valley. The Chumbi Valley is narrow and overlooked in the West by Sikkim and East by Bhutan. It is of little strategic worth since Indian forces in Sikkim can bombard Chinese positions in the narrow strip or trap Chinese forces inside by cutting off the mouth of the valley. Since the Chumbi's mouth is on the north side of the Himalayas, Indian forces can't hold ground in the valley for long before Chinese tanks roll in. But the valley is also boxed in on all sides by mountains and useless to Chinese forces.
Useless unless the Chumbi valley is linked with the Doklam Plateau at the end. It's the last piece of high ground along the Chumbi Valley before it leads through Bhutan into the south side of the Himalayas, and is a flat plateau perfect for stationing artillery and soldiers. Indian forces there can block any Chinese incursion south through the valley. Chinese forces there can shell supply lines to Sikkim from high ground during a conflict while shielding forces moving south on the east side of the plateau. Chinese control of Doklam suddenly turns the Chumbi valley into a strategic asset. I definitely recommend checking out the geography with 3D view on Google Earth if you can.
As for why Chumbi is important, China and India have two major bits of land under dispute. Aksai Chin is under Chinese control since it's on their side of the Himalayas. But Arunachal Pradesh is on the Indian side of the Himalayas and hard to hold against Indian resupply without cutting the Indian Northeast off from the rest of the country, which is why despite securing Arunachal Pradesh in 1962 Chinese forces decided to retreat. In any future war over Arunachal Pradesh, an improved Chinese position around Sikkim makes it significantly easier to isolate the Northeast and force its separation from India.
So the significance of the disputed land is because it's high ground. As for why the issue popped up now, instead of earlier or later, that's probably much more complicated.
[–]insipid-fauna 35分 11天前
As for why the issue popped up now, instead of earlier or later, that's probably much more complicated.
Some speculation if I may:
Bhutan and China are close to establishing diplomatic ties, which would resolve a lengthy border dispute between the two countries. Under the deal Sinchulumpa and Gieu would have been ceded to Bhutan while the Doklam Plateau would have been ceded to China.
Since negotiations have been dragging on for years, the road building in the plateau would put pressure on the Bhutanese government to settle the issue more quickly lest China secures de facto control over the area without ceding the other two territories. However India, given its suzerainty over Bhutan intervened for the strategic reasons /u/sparky_sparky_boom suggests.
As for the timing, OBOR is ramping up, and the 19th National People's Congress is this September. China has been seeking greater relations with its neighbors (Nepal, Philippines, Myanmar, etc.) in the past year, and Bhutan is likely just one element of this plan. Bhutanese elections are also coming up next year, but it remains to be seen whether this drags on until then.
sparky_sparky_boom 12分 11天前
Bhutan is on the Indian side if the Himalayas, so India can easily punish Bhutan by blockading the country or just straight up annexing it. If China wanted to turn Bhutan to their side, they could have given Bhutan a backup plan in case of Indian pressure. Maybe building a rail line up to the border and offering to resupply or defend Bhutan in return for diplomatic relations. Doesn't seem like China actually wants relations with Bhutan that badly if they're willing to let Bhutan shoulder all the potential fallout.
insipid-fauna 20分 11天前
China's already begun to build a rail link from Lanzhou to link up with Kathmandu, extending the railway which runs from Lanzhou to Xigaze. They could easily do the same and extend the railway to Bhutan whose border is just over 100 km away from Xigaze, so the infrastructure is in place for an extension. Given China's rather shrewd "carrot-and-stick" approach with other countries, I would guess that China has already offered a rail link to Bhutan along with settling the boundary dispute and establishing official political relations.
If reports that Bhutan did not ask India to occupy Doklam, and that China notified both Bhutan and India that they were improving the road well in advance (and was provided no objection) are true, this action by India would just compel Bhutan to establish relations with China sooner. But Bhutan may be waiting to see how Sino-Nepal relations progress before committing ties with China, lest it be subjected to the withdrawal of subsidies or a closing of the Bhutan-Indian border as you suggest (also this has happened before) and become economically isolated. I think the problem with Bhutan however that unlike Nepal, 42% of exports consist of energy sales to India, while Nepal's economy is far more diversified and would be able to pivot between the two countries easily. If anything, China would also need to link up its power network with Bhutan's, but I suppose we'll have to see how this plays out.
CopperknickersII 3分 9天前
Bhutan has always been aligned with India because India leaves them alone, whereas if they fell under Chinese influence they'd end up like Tibet, a colonial settlement of China. India's interest in Bhutan is as a buffer state between China and the Siliguri Gap, one of India's main strategic weaknesses.
sparky_sparky_boom 12分 9天前
You might want to do a bit more reading on that. There's plenty of evidence that India messes in the affairs of Nepal and Bhutan, and none that China would annex Bhutan like Tibet.
loveindiahateindians 1分 7天前
Didn't china mess with Vietnam. Bhutan and Nepal are India's neighborhood same as Vietnam for china. There will always be issues between neighbouring countries.
wiwalker[S] 2分 11天前
So I understand it tactically now, but strategically, its mainly to cut off India from its eastern provinces? That seems very ambitious but I wouldn't put it past China.
sparky_sparky_boom 21分 11天前
If you don't buy the whole "claim Arunachal Pradesh because it was always part of China" the best explanation is that China wants the Buddhist Monastery in Tawang to eliminate something that could be considered a capital for an alternative government of Tibet. However, India isn't willing to hand over Tawang on a plate, and China can't annex Tawang and hold it against Indian forces as long as they can roll tanks into the Northeast. Cutting the Northeast off from India would be the only way China can gain long-term control of Tawang and put Tibetan independence in the ground for good. The rest of Arunachal Pradesh and the Northeast isn't nearly as valuable, being on the other side of the Himalayas and hard to connect to. China would probably support a separatist movement or let Myanmar annex it or something.
GroovyBabua 2分 7天前
The Tibet issue is a weird one betweent he two countries. India accepts that the Tibet region is part of China. So there doesnt seem to be any will to push China on that front. Atleast not yet. The "capital" of the Tibetan government in exile is in Dharamshala, near the other end of the border between India and China. So Tawang is not important because of that reason.
greenpearlin 17分 11天前
I follow some geopolitics blogs on wechat from Chinese perspectives. The way these writers see it that both China and India have been constructing roads to secure their de facto borders, but the Chinese were just doing it quicker and it came to a head here in Doklam.
Strategically, I think it's a good leverage to their position in the Indian Ocean, where their $trades with Africa go through.
They are also standing firm on their demand to deal with the issue with just Bhutan, challenging the client state relationship between India and Bhutan.