Donglang
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Andrew Korybko |

China and India came to a mutual understanding in defusing the border drama that’s damaged their relations all throughout the summer.

The situation at the spot has changed, and China will adjust and deploy according to (the) current situation” but also crucially remarking that China will “exercise its sovereign rights according to the historical treaty and guard its territorial sovereignty”.

The timing couldn’t have been better, as it occurs just one week before the Chinese city of Xiamen hosts the 9th BRICS Summit. Per the reports that have streamed in since then, both sides agreed to disengage their forces from the Donglang Plateau, also called Doklam in India, though Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters that “The Chinese frontier defense force will continue to patrol and garrison in the Doklam area…The situation at the spot has changed, and China will adjust and deploy according to (the) current situation” but also crucially remarking that China will “exercise its sovereign rights according to the historical treaty and guard its territorial sovereignty”.

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From the look of things, it appears as though India backed down in the face of China’s recent hints that it could resort to military force to protect its territory, though there might be more going on than meets the eye behind the scenes, and it could be that the both sides truly did agree to de-escalate the situation through a coordinated downscaling of their troops and that the Chinese statement is for domestic consumption more than anything. However, it’s much more believable that it’s India’s inference about a mutual withdrawal which is directed at its own domestic audience, and as a face-saving measure at that, since this allows Prime Minister Modi to attend the upcoming BRICS Summit and hold one-on-one talks with President Xi without being dogged by the Donglang Drama.

For now, at least, it looks like the geopolitical contradictions between India and China, whether “naturally occurring” or provoked by outside actors, aren’t yet strong enough to override the common interest between them in reforming the global economic and financial systems, but that another crisis might be all that it takes to sabotage their delicate relations once and for all.

At this point, it’s insightful to dwell on the reason why Modi would want to go to Xiamen so bad that he’d disappoint his hyper-nationalist followers in visibly backing down from his country’s chest-thumping brinksmanship. BRICS is no longer anything close to the cohesive geopolitical force that its most zealous supporters fantasized that it was owing to the divergent grand strategic directions of India and China in moving closer to the US and Russia in the New Cold War, respectively, as well as their dueling competitive connectivity projects of the so-called “Freedom Corridor” and the New Silk Road, correspondingly. Nevertheless, both Asian Great Powers still retain a shared interest in reforming the global economic and financial systems, which is what the focus of BRICS has lately turned into, though because of the Donglang Drama, Modi would have been unable to visit China to advance multilateral cooperation on this front without infuriating his jingoistic base.

Read more: Can BRICS help India and China mend ties?

Considering that India was the party which started this dispute, and that China says that it will still patrol and garrison Donglang after the Indian withdrawal, it appears as though New Delhi decided to engage in a tactical retreat after failing to achieve its desired concessions from China, which may have also been related to North Korea if one believes that the timing of India’s actions was intentionally coordinated with the US’ aggravation of the Korean Crisis earlier this summer. For now, at least, it looks like the geopolitical contradictions between India and China, whether “naturally occurring” or provoked by outside actors, aren’t yet strong enough to override the common interest between them in reforming the global economic and financial systems, but that another crisis might be all that it takes to sabotage their delicate relations once and for all.

https://sputniknews.com/radio_context_countdown/201709011056996292-donglang-doklam-deal-trump-nafta/

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.

Andrew Korybko is a political analyst, journalist and a regular contributor to several online journals, as well as a member of the expert council for the Institute of Strategic Studies and Predictions at the People’s Friendship University of Russia. He specializes in Russian affairs and geopolitics, specifically the US strategy in Eurasia.The views expressed in this article are author’s own. It does not reflect Global Village Space Editorial policy.

Andrew Korybko is a political analyst, journalist and a regular contributor to several online journals, as well as a member of the expert council for the Institute of Strategic Studies and Predictions at the People’s Friendship University of Russia. He specializes in Russian affairs and geopolitics, specifically the US strategy in Eurasia.

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