China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has confirmed that New Delhi and Beijing have agreed to end the stand-off in Doklam, adding that it will continue to exercise its right to patrol the region, Chinese state media has reported.
Chinese media reports indicated that the Indian side had withdrawn troops from the region while no mention was made about the withdrawal of Chinese troops. Same was true for a statement issued by the Chinese MOFA, which did not comment on the withdrawal of People’s Liberation Army troops from Doklam.
Chinese media reports gave an impression that the Indian side had unilaterally withdrawn troops from the region, though it might not be true given India’s strong emphasis on mutual withdrawal. Media reports from Beijing also portrayed this as a diplomatic victory for China, citing MOFA’s statement which said that the country would continue to “exercise its sovereign rights” and patrol the region.
Experts in India dismissed this assertion, saying that the Chinese side has continued to patrol the region for years. The issue, experts say, was about Chinese attempts to change the status quo of the region by constructing a motorable road.
Weather China would continue to construct a road in the region or abandon its plans is not clear yet. The two sides have not addressed the question of road construction in their statements. However, given the fact that the dispute began when China started to construct a road, it is highly unlikely that India would agree to a withdrawal without China agreeing to stop the construction and restore the status quo.
Restoration of the status quo, if it has come about, should be treated as the logical end to the stand-off and a diplomatic victory for India.
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