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Dokalam: The Chinese’s ‘Mess’

Discussion in 'Defence Analysis' started by Hellfire, Aug 16, 2017.

  1. Hellfire

    Hellfire Devil's Advocate Staff Member MODERATOR

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    As India celebrated it’s 71st independence day yesterday, the date also marked almost two months of stand off between the armies of India and China on the Dokalam Plateau, a tract of land located adjacent to the boundary tri-junction of India, Bhutan and China, and over which, both Bhutan and China lay rival claims.

    [​IMG]
    Some of the disputed areas along Bhutan-China border. (Courtesy Indian Defence Review)


    That the row was triggered after Chinese attempts at building a road, through what they claim is their territory, was detected by the patrol party of the Royal Bhutan Army patrolling what it believed was it’s territory, is known to one and all. The inability of the Royal Bhutan Army to ‘convince’ the Chinese to desist, and the reported ‘unceremonious escort’ of the same by PLA (Economic Times, 11 Aug 2017) resulted in Indian intervention, is perhaps, a fact less known. Insofar, certain sections in Bhutan itself have lamented the sticky position Bhutan finds itself in the ongoing tussle between the two nations, and sought to downplay the Bhutanese priorities, even at the cost to their own national interests. What are the reasons for such Op-Eds and comments to make their way into the main stream media of the tiny Himalayan Kingdom, is better left to the imagination and/or intelligence of the general population.

    [​IMG]
    Screen grab of recent tussle between Indian Army and PLA troops at Dokalam.


    Recent days have seen the media rife with talk of war, claims and counter-claims, some officially backed by the belligerent parties, others - mere figment of the author’s imaginations. Whatever said and done, there is no denying the fact that both the Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a deadly stand-off, which can turn very lethal, very quickly, with disastrous consequences for a region which accounts for almost two-thirds of world population. Howsoever the impasse plays out, it is increasingly becoming evident that it is the Chinese who end up being on the losing side.




    Chinese strategic thinking?


    Ask any China watcher or ‘China Expert’ and they will mention the Chinese propensity to ‘manoeuvre’ to gain a ‘strategic advantage’. Henry Kissinger, the former US Secretary of State and National Security Adviser in the Nixon Administration, and an established China Expert and the pointsman for establishment of US-China relationship, in his book ‘On China’, has compared Chinese diplomacy to a game of Wei Qi (Japanese Game of Go), wherein, the players try to outmanoeuvre each other in order to gain a strategic advantage to be declare the winner. In contrast to the game of chess, this game involves absolutely no stage, wherein the opponent’s piece has to be ‘eliminated’.


    It is in this light, that the recent Chinese moves have to be read. On one hand, the Chinese have entered into a phase where it is enjoying an unprecedented diplomatic, economic and military clout is rising rapidly, perhaps more so as US under Trump, seeks to redefine it’s priorities and role on the world stage, and on the other, this rapidly rising stature and economic might has created conditions wherein the Chinese feel an urgent need to secure their ‘energy interests’. By reducing it’s reliance on the existing Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs) passing through the Indian Ocean and region of South China Sea and diversifying it’s routes, China seeks to circumvent the inherent clash of it’s economic interests with those of it’s political/diplomatic ones.

    [​IMG]
    Courtesy Prasun K Sengupta (Trishul). Representational Image only

    As the diplomatic, economic and military stature of the country rises, it finds itself in a position to pursue it’s core national interest of “One China”, and is calculating on an increasingly isolationist US and weakened Russia, to provide it the space and the time to achieve it, with force, if need be.


    Apologists for Chinese actions will claim that the Chinese actions are an act to undo the historical ‘wrongs’ done to it, under the terms of what the Chinese call “The Unequal Treaties”. If one was to accept these as valid reasons, for howsoever an absurd reason, the recent Chinese actions do not point towards the same. The claims against Bhutan, yet the ‘settlement’ with the former USSR and then Russia over Outer Mongolia, and increased belligerence and reclamation of atolls to make islands to establish it’s presence in the South China Sea and establishment of the so called Air Defence Identification Zone in both the South China Sea and East China Sea, in contravention to UNCLOS, it’s rejection of the findings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague over it’s dispute with Philippines and ‘run-ins’ with the Japanese Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) CAPs near Senkaku , all point towards a propensity for coerced expansionism as opposed to a peaceful re-unification.


    [​IMG]
    Chinese Air Defence Identification Zone, East China Sea.


    In this context, the recent moves of China to alter the status-quo at the Sino-Bhutan border by constructing a road on the Dokalam (or Chinese Donglang) Plateau, points towards a deliberate aim to pressurise Bhutan (and indirectly India) to ‘toe the Chinese line’.


    On 29 Sep 2016, the Indian Army Director General of Military Operations informed the nation that the Indian Army had crossed the LoC in Kashmir and conducted a ‘Surgical Strike’ in the Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The Pakistani establishment was quick to denounce the same, due to obvious reasons, but the incident was marked by a sudden and sustained spike in the level of violence all along LoC as also within the Kashmir Valley.


    It is in this backdrop that the recent incidents along the Sino-Indian border and indeed the Dokalam issue, needs to be looked at. The present stand off clearly indicates a situation wherein China was caught in the act of incremental territorial encroachment, as has been the case in South China Sea, by unilaterally building structure on disputed territory and then using it’s ‘clout’ to coerce the weaker nation to back down.


    The Chinese apparently miscalculated the alertness of the Indian Security establishment, which appeared to be busy in containing the spiralling violence along the line of control as also a series of violent protest and militant actions by Pakistan backed Islamists. According to a commander of an Indian Army Brigade (anonymity maintained as not authorised to speak to the media) deployed along LAC, the Chinese ‘miscalculated both the alertness as also the political will and determination of India’. Another ranking officer, again on a condition of anonymity, confirmed that the Indian security establishments and armed forces, as also the Government, had inkling about impending Chinese moves to apply greater pressure on India in order to ‘ease the pressure’ on Pakistan along LoC since April of this year, and the formations of Indian Army’s Eastern Command, as also the Indian Air Force, had gone into their forward positions as early as May under the ‘OpAlert’ posturing, in order to ‘dissuade’ the PLA from carrying out any misadventure.


    Mr. Brij Mohan Tiwari, a former diplomat and a ‘China Watcher’ said, “You see, the Chinese moves have to be seen in two aspects. Firstly, the Chinese have invested over US $ 63 Billion to develop the infrastructure under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for it to enable security of it’s Lines of Communication as it increasingly asserts itself in the South China Sea, much to the chagrin of the smaller neighbours and declared opposition of the Western powers including US. Any Indian action or potential action in Kashmir, which may include and not limit to military offensives to re-take the Gilgit Baltistan region of Jammu & Kashmir, will seriously undermine these Chinese efforts to secure itself against any potential conflict in the South China Sea. Secondly, by raking up the Dokalam issue, the Chinese are not only easing off pressure off the Pakistan Army along LoC, but also trying to coerce both Bhutan and India to join it’s One Belt One Road initiative, both the nations having opted out of the same. So, in effect, they are using a carrot and stick policy and they miscalculated on Indian response, as can be made out from the rhetoric emanating out of their party backed media and calls from certain quarters within India advising against interfering in the issue. That India can not allow China to build a road overlooking the ‘Chicken Neck' corridor, is but a given. And having studied the Chinese for the past three decades, if one was to study their so called ‘String of Pearls' policy, Bhutan remains one exception insofar the South Asian Region is concerned. I do not rule out a Chinese Intelligence attempt to overthrow or assassinate the Royal Family in order to bring about a policy change.’


    This ominous statement of Mr. Tiwari was echoed by Mr. Sonam Wangyal (name changed) serving in the Royal Bhutan Army, who, when apprised of Mr. Tiwari’s statement said “If you see the appearance of pro-chinese editorials in the local media in the past few days, I think that China may try and create problems in our country. We have shared a historical and warm relationship with India, and would like to co-exist peacefully with both India and China, at the same time, maintaining cordial relationships with both. But the Chinese actions in our border areas, wherein they have threatened our troops and infringed upon our territorial integrity, bespeaks of a dangerous and hostile neighbour. I do agree with Mr. Tiwari’s statement. They may try to harm our Royal Family or instigate violence in our peace loving nation. But we are prepared to face any challenges and defend our nation against such elements, who may try to disturb our peace. We are always thankful to India, who is even now standing with us shoulder to shoulder’.


    [​IMG]
    HH King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck alongwith HH Queen Jetsun Pema and baby Prince Jigme.

    One thing remains clear. By suggesting that the dispute was between China and Bhutan and India was ‘meddling’, the Chinese shot themselves in the proverbial foot, as they have come out to be the regional bully who is bullying a smaller and weaker neighbour to part with territory. And the ASEAN nations are watching this carefully.


    As the rest of the world watches, the two powerhouses of Asia - India and China, continue to remain engaged in an eyeball to eyeball confrontation which threatens to upend the tremendous economic progress this region has seen.




    @nair @PARIKRAMA
     
  2. Golden_Rule

    Golden_Rule Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    Good analysis.

    Chinese acts are motivated by its ambitions which they try to accomplish with power posturing. Since a long time, the world has witnessed the Chinese rarely getting into an actual conflict. Hypothetically speaking, what would be the Chinese response if India gets into a similar land grabbing mode, recovers a significant part of Aksai Chin or liberates a significant portion of occupied Tibet?
     
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  3. PARIKRAMA

    PARIKRAMA Angel or Devil? Staff Member ADMINISTRATOR

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    @Levina @Abingdonboy @Agent_47

    Pls share this in social media

    @Hellfire
    What are the odds that royal family of Bhutan be taken out by China in order to install a proxy and control Bhutan?

    How can we as India stop this?

    Is this the dragons true intent? If you can't get it straight then get it by all means possible ?

    Will there be a repeat of Nepal like scenario where King was wiped out under someone's behest again and that someone is now targeting Bhutan?
     
  4. Golden_Rule

    Golden_Rule Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    Fiscal muscle is very powerful. Chinese commies were funded by the west via Russia in the early 20th century to consolidate power over as much region as possible. Military technologies were transferred in the 60's and the 70's. And 80's on wards we have witnessed West favoring China with trade in order to build up its reserves as well as allow technology and IP to be stolen, by design.

    This monster created in the East is now bidding to swallow tiny nations via shrewdly calculated fiscal traps such as seen in Sri Lanka, CPEC of Pakistan and Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

    We are seeing history repeat itself.

    Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins

    "Economic hit men," John Perkins writes, "are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder."

    John Perkins should know—he was an economic hit man for an international consulting firm that worked to convince developing countries to accept enormous loans and to funnel that money to U.S.corporations. Once these countries were saddled with huge debts, the American government and international aid agencies were able to request their “pound of flesh” in favors, including access to natural resources, military cooperation, and political support.

    China is following a similar strategy and US is now a simple onlooker. Is this a deliberate action of US to allow China to become what it is now?

    Can India on its own take proactive actions to not allow Bhutan to reach a stage of no return as was the case in Nepal as @PARIKRAMA asked?
     
  5. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    RaGa is a very dear and personal friend of King of Bhutan. Chinese envoy in India met him to get thru to King of Bhutan. India will have to provide full protection to King of Bhutan to ensure his safety from Chinese.
     
  6. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    The background map is from the beginning of the solar system ie 'ancient times'. Annotations are mine:troll:

    Bhutan Map As Per PRC.jpg
     
  7. Levina

    Levina Colonel on stilettos Staff Member ADMINISTRATOR

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  8. Hellfire

    Hellfire Devil's Advocate Staff Member MODERATOR

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    I think the way things are proceeding on the diplomatic front, or should I say the lack of any progress on a diplomatic solution to our problems with China, and the shifting position and antagonistic attitude being displayed by the Chinese leadership, the day is not far when the Indian leadership shall have to take step back and a re-look at the Indian position and Indian stance on the whole of China issue.

    What people simply overlook is the history of Chinese claim over Tibet, as also the pre-eminence of the Dalai Lama. The two is a marriage of convenience. That is a topic for some other day, but I am not very sure that people are aware that in 1227 the Mongols under Genghis Khan, attacked the Tanguts or Xixia state when they failed to provide soldiers as demanded. During this campaign, the Khan died and the Mongols, in revenge, all but destroyed them. The Mongols followed this by staging raids into Tibetan Kingdoms.


    [​IMG]
    Map depicting the Kingdoms during Song Dynasty

    In 1244, Godan Khan, the local Mongol leader, summoned the Sakya Pandita, a prominent Tibetan religious authority, who, in 1247, formally submitted to the Khan and was in return, given Tibet to rule on behalf of Mongol Rulers. (Selected Works on Asian History by Luciano Petech).

    This particular period of the Tibetan history is also known as the sil-bur-gyur-ba or "the dark fragmented period" by the Tibetans as the once mighty Tibetan Empire of the 'Chosgyals' who ruled right over a mighty empire to which the Tang Dynasty of China, paid tribute, lay fragmented (that again is a topic for some other day).

    Anyways, I digress. The Sakya Lama ruled over Tibet (and history has no records of direct Mongol control of Tibet during this time) till 1251, when it was again invaded by the Mongols (1252). By this time, every prominent figure in the Mongol tribes had relationship with one or the other monk/sect of the Tibetans. The most important amongst this was that between Kublai Khan and Phagspa Lama with the former starting lessons with and being initiated by the latter in 1254 and 1258 respectively. Kublai Khan became the ruler of China and established a new dynasty Yuan and in 1260, he granted Phagspa Lama control over Western and Central Tibet. According to well known Tibetan historian W.D. Shakabpa, he was conferred with Chinese titles as also the supreme authority over whole of Tibet. The Mongols exercised some authority over Tibet through this intermediary, and organised taxation, forced labour, census, and followed their established practice of controlling regions through local sedentary collaborators and supporting local religious authorities on a hereditary basis. This practice came to be known as Cho-Yon (or Priest-Patron) setup.

    Fast forward to 1570, when the Ming Dynasty was at power in China and Altan Khan was the ruler of Mongolia. In that year, Altan Khan was forced to make peace with the Ming Dynasty when his favourite grandson defected to the Chinese. Since the mid 1560s, the Mongols had been regularly invading Tibet and at the time, Tibet was being controlled by various sects namely the Red Hat and the Black Hat Sect, but being opposed by the Yellow Hat Sect. In 1578, Altan Khan and Sonam Gyatso, the leader of the Yellow Hat Sect, mutually recognised each other as the reincarnation of Kublai Khan and Phagspa Lama respectively!

    In this meeting, Altan Khan conferred the title of "Dalai Lama" on Sonam Gyatso and two dead but influential priests. The Ming Court was not amused. For the Yellow Hat Sect, this was a crowning achievement as they had lost the sectarian struggle against the other sects in Tibet. In 1588, Altan Khan's grandson was 'identified' as the fourth Dalai Lama, and that is how the Dalai Lama came to power in Tibet.


    Sorry, but felt that this tidbit of information needed to be out in the domain, in order to better understand the actions of the present Dalai Lama both before and after the annexation of Tibet.

    @PARIKRAMA @nair @Levina

    History lessons :)
     
  9. Hellfire

    Hellfire Devil's Advocate Staff Member MODERATOR

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    Who knows? Depends on how well can the Bhutanese protect their sovereign and take the necessary steps against those who may try to stir up trouble from within. The dissenting pro-China voices should be observed carefully.

    We all know how the late King Birendra and his family was wiped out by the son supposedly shooting all of them because they would not let him marry the girl of his choice. How much more lame can an excuse be?

    And King Gyanendra tried to play India against China and shifted Nepal from a Constitutional Monarchy towards Absolute (baby steps anyways) on the backs of Communist Insurgency. His 'leaning' towards China was apparent, and we all know how things changed very quickly and Prachanda was soon on the scene
     
  10. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    To add Mongolia follows Tibetan Buddhism. China (Taiwan) claims both Mongolia and Tibet based on Qing dynasty's loose rule of these two peripheral empires. The trouble arises cause Genghiz Khan & sons were Mongolian. So using Chinese logic China is part of Mongolia 'since ancient times'. China has 'solved' that problem by claiming Genghiz and all Mongolians as Chinese just like the Tibetans. Of course the Mongolians disagree ( with lots of help from Russia ;))
     
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  11. Hellfire

    Hellfire Devil's Advocate Staff Member MODERATOR

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    Exactly! Hence, Modi's diplomatic parley with Mongolia!

    Ethnographic Map of China

    [​IMG]
     
  12. nair

    nair Die hard Romeo Staff Member ADMINISTRATOR

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    Well this is so chinese........ And their tactics have been the same.... I guess GOI has decided the right time to take on them....

    Well this stand off stands out from the previous ones, You know why??? The way GoI handled it and the way Media backed up the govt.

    We all know how the current govt behaved when issues such as this came up, especially the big mouth leaders, all remember the 56 inch statements..... But when you look at this, all we could find is one of 2 statememnts from GOI, 1) the written statement, and 2) From arun jately when he said it is not 1962 but 2017, other than that things have been quiet and calm.....

    Similarly the media, especially the electronic one, The TrP hungry media houses where more or less mute and helping the govt in a great way by not doing their usual dramas and talk shows, When was the last time you had such a situation??? Even a small firing would have made 2 hour long debates on arnabs and gang..... But we must loud them for being responsible..... I guess in print media, IE has been playing their games and some how we all are used to their anti military stands and articles....... Even in print there is not much articles barring few opinions by experts....

    Well I would say this was a master stroke by GoI, and they have used this pretty well, one must appreciate the brain of NSA on this, and he has calculated and anticipated the steps well in advance..... Chinese thought they could get away with it, as they ahve done numerous time, by coming at will and setting up tents, they even did when their premiere was in India..... That was their arrogance, I guess this was a slap on their arrogance.... They handled it pretty bad.... They thought the could threaten India to with draw, and by the time they realise that this is not working and shifting the strategy, IA made their move and fortified their area..... But one cannot be so confident and say that chinese can be on loosing side.....

    Probably that is the difference here.... As i mentioned We played Chess and they were playing Wei Qi.....
    Probably this manure by GOI has the potential to threat the above point, and i am sure the chinese knows it pretty well... If you see the entire world is watching this stand off with lot of curiosity and they are also eager to find out which way this turn out.... For chinese a lot is at stake...

    I guess we have been doing enough to secure our interest thru our own investments, be at gawadar, seashells Mauritius and at Oman.....
    Absolutely right, I feel it is all depends on Russia, and how they plan to act in future, Are they planning to be weakened and ally with china as a second fiddle or stand out on its own as it has been doing..... The world order is depends on it... Not only world order, this has lot for India too...

    We all know how they respect the treaties when it threaten its interests..... But today how many apologists chinese has???? Pakistanis??? They are going to be their new province soon, the only difference is they will not be able to convert them to atheists..... But otherwise there are not many..... Let us ask a counter question, Which other country has as many as boundary disputes chinese has???? You will find None, and this is not on one part of the world, this is visible across its boundaries...

    I agree we are not saints either, and we have our own disputes, but other than chinese and their colony, we do not have any serious disputes!!!!!

    This is exactly the reason why India took such a Bold step, both the nations knows the importance of bhutan and importance of Dokala with respect to Chicken neck....

    This is where this govt stands out, not worried about taking bold steps, the steps could be taking action, and at times, conveying it to the right guys.... (that is a different topic altogether)
    The very idea of Surgical Strike was to convey a message, and that message was recieved loud and clear not only at rawalpindi but also at murudike..... The effectiveness of it will be known after some time.... But the message has been conveyed...

    Again spot on.... Well That is where this govt stands out, The call has taken to call the bluff, and take a bold step of not allowing an ally to be bullied by a bigger nation.... This was chinese first mistake....

    This is the second mistake chinese made.... They thought the current govt and the armed forces would take it in our chaltha hein attitude, probably the cross border raids on both sides of the country has not noticed by them, at least that should have gave them a message that things have changed in India, be it at the govt or be it at the defence establishment....
    I probably disagree with the first part, as i am not sure one can link easing the pressure on west by doing doklam, they did not expect us to respond in first place, so the question of easing the pressure doesn't araise..... It is understandable that they wanted to ease the pressure on Pakistan so that their CPEC can be completed smoothly, But the idea seems to have been something else, and their new colony knows only one route, that is the route of Terror, probably that was something chinese did not want to pursue.....
    Probably this was a proactive step, with an anticipation that there can be a threat from chinese, but i guess this pro activeness was brilliant and timely....

    I do not know how this stand off would pull us in to OBOR by bullying us??? Never... Wrong assessment....
    This is quite possible, but then what guarantee it gives that the new regime would be pro chinese, It has a split side of creating more hawkish leadership if the attempt fails.... But as chinese are unpredictable people, they can do anything..... Oflate their colony has taught them new techniques, including stone pelting...

    Now with this they lost their edge on this, Now it is chinese who want the royal family to be safe..... One more lost opportunity...

    Well we are not very sure how this is going to turn out, but Indo chinese relationship will take a turn for sure from now..... We have been in receiving end for a very long time thru their proxy/colony/province Pakistan.... Even to the level of providing a nuke when we were on the verge of a war..... There is not much we are gonna loose from locking horn with them, instead it is the chinese which has a lot to loose with another hostile neighbor, not only this will also increase the importance of US which otherwise is loosing their clout, and unnecessarily bring them to SA...... It is time the chinese realise that India want to be a equal partner and not to be bullied directly or thru its allies.....

    Hope This stand off ends without any blood shed.....
     
  13. Satendra kumar

    Satendra kumar FULL MEMBER

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    China's aggressive behaviour towards Indians and it's territories is bit aggressive and suspicious after many decades of peace and stability at line of control or disputed areas,China all of a sudden engaging in unapprioate behaviour.The tri junction borders between India,Bhutan and China has maintain peace and stability for many years.Any disputed or incursion between two military powers should be resolved peacefully within the procedures and regulations of United Nations Convention.These unapprioate behaviours will damage the reputation of Chinese as a bully boy of today's mordern democratic societies and the civilised world is not happy.
     
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  14. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Xi Jinping started this game of expansion using money across Asia. CPEC is just one part of it but also the biggest part of it. If India undoes this investment, what happens to Xi Jinping and China? The re-election of Xi Jinping is due in Nov this year. He has just two options, either get India onboard to save CPEC or get lost.
     
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  15. Golden_Rule

    Golden_Rule Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    Tibet has a similar history of invaders looting and ruling their country as India. Tibetian script is very close to Indian, in fact their alphabets sound the same as Devanagari. But today, India is an independent country and not Mughal empire. Hope the Chinese occupation will be overthrown one day.
     
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