High atop the Doklam Plateau, Indian and Chinese forces were locked in a standoff. This is an area around Sikkim and Bhuttan in the region of North India near Nepal, which is described as “the roof of the world”. It is therefore out of sight and perhaps out of mind, but carries dangers in respect of the relationship of the two most populous nations in the world.

The dispute along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the contested 4,057-kilometer (2,521-mile) border between China and India, began June 16th, 2017. Since then, for more than two months, Chinese and Indian forces had stood toe to toe. India triggered the current standoff between the two regional powers when it accused China of unilaterally altering the status quo in the disputed Doklam Plateau area by building a road extension. And in the time since, each side has vehemently denounced the other's presence, threatening to dig in for a prolonged fight. A military confrontation would have serious repercussions for India and China alike, but it can't be ruled out.

The routes of the issue go back many years, to the Sino-Indian War in 1962. Fifty years later, China and India are still using their respective advantages in each sector along the LAC to try to hold their ground. Either side could launch a punitive strike in these sectors as their border dispute escalates. China recently began massive infrastructure work on highways, railroads, tunnels and bridges near the LAC, which exposed New Delhi's strategic disadvantages along the border. And New Delhi has therefore started trying to reinforce its defences.

Stratfor summarises: “Despite their protracted dispute, both nations show little interest in seriously escalating the situation, as evidenced by calculated rhetoric from their political leaders. Still, they have limited space to back down. Beijing is in a sensitive period of political transition, which has forced it to balance rising nationalist sentiments at home with its current position in global affairs. Likewise, New Delhi is uninterested in backing down unless doing so can be portrayed domestically as a diplomatic victory. Thus, the two sides risk an extended standoff, or even skirmishes along their shared border.”

And there are wider tensions. China’s Belt and Road initiative involves close cooperation with Pakistan and there is also a significant Chinese port project with Sri Lanka as well as various infrastructure projects with Nepal. New Delhi is worried that Beijing has begun encroaching on India's traditional sphere of influence. So India has attempted to counterbalance China's efforts by enacting its own infrastructure projects in Africa and accelerating its “Act East” push, which includes partnerships with Japan and Vietnam. (Source: Stratfor Enterprises LLC, www.stratfor.com).

Stratfor reported August 28th "that a breakthrough had finally been achieved and both countries agreed to disengage troops. The move to resolve the standoff came ahead the 9th annual BRICS summit to be held in Beijing.” This time, at least a settlement has been reached.  However The Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing said August 29th that it was pleased that "trespassing Indian personnel have all pulled back to the Indian side of the boundary”. At the same time India's foreign ministry confirmed troops were "disengaging" at Doklam after agreement between the countries. This was just a week before a September visit to China by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. So how long that peace will hold, with an on-line war between citizens of the two countries as to who pulled back first, only time - and prayer! - will tell.

Pray for the governments of China and India, that they would be given wisdom to hold to this settlement in this dangerous situation..

Pray for the people in this region, which is very remote, especially for any Christian believers.

Pray for the wider policies of both China and India in terms of the expansion of their interests, that they would be for the wellbeing of the nations around them.

In His grace,

Ross Paterson
Director,  Derek Prince Ministries – China