MEA announces diplomatic breakthrough with China, says forces have started withdrawing from Doklam

Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) today announced a diplomatic breakthrough with China on the Doklam standoff and said that withdrawal of forces from the flashpoint has begun.

The two-line statement issued by the MEA at noon is as under:

"In recent weeks, India and China have maintained diplomatic communication in respect of the incident at Doklam. During these communications, we were able to express our views and convey our concerns and interests. On this basis, expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site at Doklam has been agreed to and is ongoing," it said.

Significantly, the statement comes ahead of the BRICS summit next week where Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are supposed to attend. The two leaders have chosen to keep quiet on the issue so far.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. Photo courtesy: BRICS
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. Photo courtesy: BRICS

The statement did not immediately make clear whether the disengagement is being done by the both countries, or that MEA is speaking for India only and disengagement is by the Indian side only. There was no word on this issue on the any of Chinese news outlets or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing.

However, the Indian bilingual public broadcaster DD News in its Hindi language bulletin said, "Both China and India have decided to call back their militaries from Doklam."

At the same time, DD News talking heads bemoaned the media onslaught unleashed by the state run newspaper Global Times on Indian government during the stand-off.

Under a pact with Bhutan, India had sent its forces in June this year to block road construction activity by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China in Bhutan-held Doklam at India's northeast border. China claims the area to be its own and India perceives it to be a direct threat to its Chicken Neck, a narrow strip that joins mainland India to its once restive North East made up of seven states and different ethnicities.

The stand-off saw some unprecedented posturing, brinkmanship, and talks of war on both sides. Indian populace seethed with calls for vengeance for India's defeat at the hand of China in 1962 war. Chinese state-media condemned and ridiculed Indian stance and warned of worse consequences if war starts.

Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj had made New Delhi's stance clear that Indian Army will back off only PLA also withdraws and status quo is maintained.

DD News termed development as "victory" and "vindication" of Indian stance. Popular channel Aaj Tak went to extent of saying China was "forced to bend" and India has "won."

Former Rear Admiral and Security Analyst C Uday Bhaskar congratulated both countries for showing maturity as Asia's largest powers in dealing with a very complex problem.