Why are China and India in a border standoff?

World Today

FILE – In this Oct. 16, 2016, file photo, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping listen to a speech during the BRICS Leaders Meeting with the BRICS Business Council in Goa, India. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)

For more than six weeks, China and India have faced off in a land dispute in a Himalayan region at the top of the world, where China, India, and Bhutan meet.

The dispute began on June 16, 2017, as a Chinese construction firm guarded by unarmed Chinese soldiers, was building a road in Doklam — a territory controlled by China and claimed by Bhutan.

The two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations, but have been negotiating their border since the 1980s and have held 24 rounds of talks.

Bhutan said China had entered its territory and asked India to intervene on its behalf.

On June 18, more than 270 Indian troops crossed the border and reached more than 100 meters into Chinese territory to stop the building of the road, an Aug. 2 report from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The Chinese report said that the number of troops later grew to 400 at one point and troops advanced more an additional 80 meters into Chinese territory. By the end of July, there were more than 40 Indian troops and one bulldozer still in Chinese territory.

While the boundary has yet to be formally delimited, Bhutan and China have had joint surveys and have a basic consensus of the actual state of the border and their boundaries, the report said.

“The China-Bhutan boundary issue is one between China and Bhutan. It has nothing to do with India. As a third party, India has no right to interfere in or impede the boundary talks between China and Bhutan, still less the right to make territorial claims on Bhutan’s behalf,” the Chinese report said.

The Ministry said that China will continue to work with Bhutan to resolve the boundary issue “in the absence of external interference.”


In a press release on June 29, Bhutan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked China for the status to return to what it was before June 16.

“On 16th June 2017, the Chinese Army started constructing a motorable road from Dokala in the Doklam area towards the Bhutan Army camp at Zompelri… Bhutan has conveyed to the Chinese side, both on the ground and through the diplomatic channel, that the construction of the road inside Bhutanese territory is a direct violation of the agreements and affects the process of demarcating the boundary between our two countries,” the press release said.

Meanwhile India’s Ministry of External Affairs said it told China that the construction in Doklam “amount to a significant change in the status quo”.

India’s Minister of State of External Affairs V.K. Singh said on July 27 that because there is no commonly delineated Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China, disputes arise that “could have been avoided if we had a common perception of the LAC.”

Singh also said that both countries are committed to a “fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary question through dialogue and peaceful negotiations.”