Desperate Xi stymied by Trump at North Korea and Modi at Bhutan. Gregory Copley, Defense & Foreign Affairs.

Jul 29, 2017, 06:12 AM

07-29-2017 bb (Photo: This image shows the termini of the glaciers in the Bhutan-Himalaya. Glacial lakes have been rapidly forming on the surface of the debris-covered glaciers ...) http://JohnBatchelorShow.com/contact http://JohnBatchelorShow.com/schedules Twitter: @BatchelorShow

Desperate Xi stymied by Trump at North Korea and Modi at Bhutan. Gregory Copley, Defense & Foreign Affairs.

"...So what of Pres. Xi’s timing of the Doklam Plateau crisis?
The confrontation is in a region which is to a degree governed by the seasons and alti-tude (above 14,000 ft./4,200m), which means that any meaningful military operations by the PRC or India (and Bhutan) would ideally need to occur before the winter. Not that the snow season there is as critical as in, say, the Siachen Glacier region in the Karako-ram Range of the Himalayas, near the Line of Control between Indian- and Pakistani-controlled areas of Kashmir, where India and Pakistan fought a brief conflict in 1984.
Snow in Bhutan is unlikely to be an issue before December, so there is ample scope for the Indo-PRC confrontation to escalate before then. What seems clear is that Beijing may not have expected India’s response to its initiative to have been so robust and con-fident.
To an extent, Beijing may have been relying on the fact that India found it difficult to prevail in the Indo-PRC conflict in the Himalayas in 1962, when PRC People’s Libera-tion Army (PLA) troops crossed the de facto border (the McMahon Line) at Ladakh. That brief war was conducted solely by the armies of both nations; it was too difficult for the use of air power at that time.
That constraint applied to a lesser degree in 2017, when the armies and air forces of both nations have focused on high-altitude operations. Certainly, the fixed-wing combat capabilities of both states could now handle strike and air combat operations at that alti-tude. India also showed that it could undertake helicopter gunship operations at that alti-tude, and the PLA’s acquisition of 24 US Sikorsky S-70C Black Hawks in the mid-1980s was specifically to obtain a helicopter which could operate at that altitude. Subsequent-ly, the PRC has built an S-70C clone, the Z-20.
In the current incident, the Bhutan Government said that the PRC’s PLA had crossed on June 16, 2017, into western Bhutan-occupied area at the Doka La pass and the road which PLA engineering troops had been building would run from the town of Dokola to the Bhutanese Army camp at Zompelri. The Bhutan Foreign Ministry called the road-building a direct violation of agreements reached in 1988 and 1998 to maintain peace and refrain from unilateral action in the area pending a final border settlement. “Bhutan hopes that the status quo in the Doklam area will be maintained,” a Foreign Ministry statement said on June 29, 2017.
India maintains troops in Bhutan, but moved additional forces into the Doklam Plateau area on June 18, 2017. Unarmed troops on both sides challenged each other, and the road-building appeared by late July 2017 to have been stopped.
Significantly, Bhutan does not maintain an embassy in the PRC, but deals with Beijing diplomatically through India. Ambassador of Bhutan to India Vetsop Namgyel stated, when the current crisis arose: “Doklam is a disputed territory and Bhutan has a written agreement with China that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, peace and tranquility should be maintained in the area.”
India and the PRC have numerous territorial claims against each other, all of which could be inflamed.7 But those, and the Doklam Plateau incident of 2017, are in them-selves and on this occasion incidental to the rationale under which Pres. Xi has escalat-ed the current crisis. These are claims which have been — since the 1962 border war between the two states — pushed into the realm of diplomatic negotiation.
The current escalation is about PRC internal politics, and about cementing the position and policies of Xi Jin...