The nearly two month old standoff in the remote Doklam plateau between China and India may be coming to a close, as the two nations promise to disengage and diffuse hostilities that have been building over a border dispute.

In recent weeks, India and China have maintained diplomatic communication in respect of the incident at Doklam,” India’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “On this basis, expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site at Doklam has been agreed to and is on-going,”

The ‘face-off’ was over a border region in the Himalayas, where the borders of India, Bhutan, and China all come together in a remote and rugged area high in the mountains. India deployed soldiers to the area after Chinese plans to build a road were contested by tiny Bhutan, who requested India’s assistance in the matter.

China, responding in kind, deployed its own soldiers, which began a series of small escalations between the two major regional powers. Not wanting the situation to escalate into a full-blown shooting war, Indian and Chinese soldiers confronted each other without lethal weapons, resulting in bizarre fist fights and shoving matches in the austere terrain.

After initially being a sideshow in the international media, the conflict picked up steam after increasingly bellicose language from Chinese and Indian officials hinted at the possibility of an actual war.
As the conflict winds down in preparation for a major economic conference to be hosted in China, which will include India, so too does the inflammatory talk of the last few months. “China hopes India respects the historical boundary and works with China to protect peace along the border on the basis of mutual respect of each other’s sovereignty,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said.

It appears the stand-off instead was a chance for nationalist politicians in both countries to talk tough and flex their military bona fides. The issue of a border demarcation, a holdover from early efforts to mark which areas belong to which countries after their independence, is part of a larger trend of confrontation between the countries as both China and India seek to solidify their regional influence in South Asia.

Image from Foreign Ministry of China, via Wikipedia

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